He Malbrán Institute reported this Tuesday, January 5, that new strains of the coronavirus found in Argentina correspond to the “variant of Rio de Janeiro“In addition, they assured that” so far no South African or UK variants found“.
Josefina Campos, coordinator of the Anlis-Malbrán Genomics and Bioinformatics Platform, who carry out active surveillance of the genomes of strains circulating in the country, confirmed to the agency Telam the appearance in Argentina of the Covid-19 mutation circulating in Rio de Janeiro.
“Of the last genomes we sequenced between November and December, we found one in which we were able to identify the six mutations corresponding to the Rio de Janeiro variant“said Josefina Campos.
Along these lines, he added: “We were also able to identify the clonal relationship, that means you have the same origin than the Rio de Janeiro variant. “Campos pointed out that”this variant was also found in England and Canada“.
Coronavirus mutations detected in five samples from Argentina
“There are still no conclusive studies that allow us to affirm that the variants have some impact on transmissibility, the severity of infection or effectiveness of the vaccine. Viruses mutate all the time, what is there right now is a focus on a UK variant because it has many mutations together that they could have any implication in transmissibility, but it is not conclusive either, “he stressed.
Referring to the Rio de Janeiro variant specifically, Campos explained that “of the six mutations it has, there is one that is in the protein spike (spike or spike); in previous works it had been found that this variant decreased the neutralizing effects of monoclonal antibodies and of some convalescent plasmas, but there are no specific studies of the variant, what is done is an association with previous works “.
The biochemist recalled that the Anlis-Malbrán carries out active surveillance of the genomes that circulate in Argentina since the pandemic began and reported that “until now no mutations found for the UK and South African variants“.
For its part, the consortium of laboratories of the Argentine Inter-institutional Genomics Project of SARS-Cov-2 (PAIS), reported that he found the spike protein mutation of the variant of Rio de Janeiro in five other samples but how didn’t do the full sequencing yet, they cannot claim that it is the same variant.
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“Over a total of 144 samples we found five samples that had a mutation in the coronavirus spike protein (E484K) that shares it with the variant of Rio de Janeiro and South Africa“, he confirmed to Telam Mariana Viegas, researcher at Conicet and responsible for PAIS project.
And he continued: “However, they are not the South African variant because this variant in turn has an additional mutation (at position 501 of the protein) that these samples do not. So what we are doing is sequencing the entire genome to determine if it is the variant of Rio de Janeiro, which will be at the end of this week or next week. “
Viegas agreed that, based on the information available so far, “this mutation would not have any implication on the transmissibility or the severity of the infection“.
While asked about whether it could have an impact on the efficacy of vaccines, she stated that “when one immunizes with a vaccine, what they do is generate polyclonal antibodies, that is, they recognize several places, then that there is a mutation does not mean that they will not respond because it is a single position of the protein. “
On the other hand, the researcher indicated that in the analyzes carried out by the PAIS Project “so far we have not found the UK variant in any sample, on which there is epidemiological evidence that indicates that it has greater transmissibility “.