health

What we do and don't know about new COVID mutations

17 Comments
By Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS

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You’d better all study well that Kucharski example from above. While you still can...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Coignard said it was impossible to eradicate the new viral variants entirely, although the goal from policymakers should be "maximum delay" of their spread.

The ECDC says that in countries currently unaffected by the new mutations, "efforts to delay the spread should mirror those made during the earlier stage of the pandemic".

Hope the J gov is listening to this but I'm not holding my breath.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You’d better all study well that Kucharski example from above. While you still can...

With the caveat that his example requires the lethality of the virus to be the same, a common situation when a virus infects a new host is that it becomes more contagious by causing a milder disease.

If for example one new virus strain can enter the cell the same as the usual one but reproduces more slowly, that can mask it better from the immune response, letting the person be infected for longer time but with less or no symptoms, once the body realize there is an infection it will have also more time to mount an effective defense (because the virus is still slower). So you end up with a carrier that can spread the infection for a longer time but with much less risk of becoming seriously sick. This can be enough to give this new strain an advantage over the others.

On Monday, however, Francois Balloux, professor of Computational Systems Biology and Director at University College London's Genetics Institute said that the South African variant's spike protein mutation "helps the virus to bypass immune protection provided by prior infection or vaccination".

What we still don't know is if this "help" the virus receives from the mutations has any importance. The normal immune response produce many different kinds of antibodies against the spike protein, directed to many different portions of the protein, even if mutations make some of these antibodies useless (because their target changed) they can be compensated by the many other kinds of antibodies that still recognized the parts of the protein that have not changed.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

With the caveat that his example requires the lethality of the virus to be the same, a common situation when a virus infects a new host is that it becomes more contagious by causing a milder disease

Exactly, this is never mentioned 'for some reason'...

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Exactly, this is never mentioned 'for some reason'...

The reason is obviously that if the call is to be vigilant and cautious because of the possibility of higher risk, it is much more useful to explain what are those risks and how they justify the recommendation.

What would be the point of saying "Be specially careful of respiratory diseases during winter, some people don't get sick on winter"?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

It would be more appropriate to define on what we dont know about leaky vaccines as opposed to perfect vaccines. The flu vaccine is also a leaky vaccine. Ive heard that leaky vaccines make viruses stronger by way of mutation and stronger ability to be contagious thus possibly making viruses more deadly, especially for people who dont get leaky vaccines. Making generalizations about vaccines as a whole and not acknowledging the division of issues involving vaccine types is misleading and worrisome.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

It would be more appropriate to define on what we dont know about leaky vaccines as opposed to perfect vaccines. The flu vaccine is also a leaky vaccine.

There is not a single case of a human infection made more virulent by vaccination, that is why there is no real importance in mentioning it, and the Influenza vaccine has not even been demonstrated as being leaky (as in offering only partial protection for all vaccinees and allowing unrestricted transmission) up until now only animal vaccines have shown to be this kind.

For COVID-19 this worry is particularly unreasonable, common asymptomatic infection is for purposes of this differentiation a natural "leaky" vaccine. So even if nobody is ever vaccinated there risk would be still there present. Since the vaccine actually has shown to be effective then even in the worst case scenario (that the vaccine would not offer any protection to some people) the only difference would be between saving people or not with the vaccine, because the risk of higher virulence would still be there no matter what.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Virusrex,

I'm not convinced that leaky don't vaccines make viruses stronger, aka more virulent. Even mentioning leaky vaccines got the topic knocked off the front page. It's something that we really don't know, but we do know that it causes mutation different than what would have occurred without human therapeutic intervention. Please be sure to differentiate between the different kinds of vaccines because doing that makes people believe that they're all perfect and effective.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Oh and virusrex, when I say leaky, I'm referring to the vaccines ineffectiveness that allows the stronger attributes of the virus to live and get stronger.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Oh and virusrex, when I say leaky, I'm referring to the vaccines ineffectiveness that allows the stronger attributes of the virus to live and get stronger.

I'm skeptical. Sounds like bro science.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

https://www.ft.com/content/a1955694-3ae4-11e5-bbd1-b37bc06f590c

This is the first thing that came up in the Google search and there's mountains of evidence. Give it a try.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Here's one more. There are really tons of articles on this. leaking vaccines for the reason why you have to take a different vaccine every year unlike a perfect vaccine like polio which doesn't require so many vaccinations because of mutations.

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/leaky-vaccines-can-produce-stronger-versions-of-viruses-072715

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm not convinced that leaky don't vaccines make viruses stronger, aka more virulent.

Yeah, lot of people cannot accept their beliefs are not rational, even when confronted with evidence that prove they are not based on anything but your wish for it to be true.

Even mentioning leaky vaccines got the topic knocked off the front page.

And this kind of impossibility to accept being wrong is also closely followed by the irrational belief on conspiracies where everything that happens is only to censor you.

It's something that we really don't know, but we do know that it causes mutation different than what would have occurred without human therapeutic intervention.

We already know is not realistically possible, because the vaccine is at the end the same protein that made the natural infection non-leaky. If you want to consider "possible" any kind of wild imagination even when there is not a single piece of evidence that say this could be the case it would be as rational to consider "possible" that the virus mutates towards something that improves your immunity even against other diseases and make people super-healthy.

Please be sure to differentiate between the different kinds of vaccines because doing that makes people believe that they're all perfect and effective.

If people have mistaken ideas that is not an excuse to endlessly list irrelevant information, the fact is that not a single human vaccine has made a human virus more virulent by being leaky. And your example (influenza) is included, it has not even been proved to make immune reactions drop intraseason. It makes as much sense as demanding to clarify the gauge of the needle used or the material of the syringe. Simply Irrelevant.

Oh and virusrex, when I say leaky, I'm referring to the vaccines ineffectiveness that allows the stronger attributes of the virus to live and get stronger.

That is not what leaky means, you cannot simply use a well defined term for any meaning you would like it to mean. Also, if you are using that invalid definition that would prove yourself wrong, because there is no evidence that any influenza vaccine has made the virus stronger.

https://www.ft.com/content/a1955694-3ae4-11e5-bbd1-b37bc06f590c

How about a scientific study instead of an opinion article? too difficult to understand?

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/leaky-vaccines-can-produce-stronger-versions-of-viruses-072715

So, as I told you before,

-not a single example found in history of this happening for human vaccines.

-no demonstration that the influenza vaccine is leaky, nor that is affects in any way its pathogenicity.

-absolutely no evidence that would indicate that this is a possible mechanism for a disease that naturally produce exactly the same phenomenon regularly with asymptomatic carriers such as COVID-19.

In reality there is no real importance of this mechanism for any current human vaccine, much less the vaccines for COVID-19, this is old news on real scientific journals.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6247/461

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Against medical advise, the UK government is delaying the second vaccination shot for 12 weeks instead of the recommended 2 weeks in the belief that they can vaccinate more people.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Virusrex,

That was a valiant effort, but you keep differentiating between humans and animals. Humans are actually a kind of animal you know. I'll think about what you said. I respect your opinion and you do have some interesting points, sometimes. In all honesty, I hope my suspicions are not right in this particular case.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

That was a valiant effort, but you keep differentiating between humans and animals.

No, that is a misunderstanding. I (and more importantly the experts in the field) differentiate between human and animal vaccines. Veterinarian vaccines have a much lower standard to surpass to be approved, for human vaccines the requirements are much higher, they are closely followed and need very strong evidence of providing a high degree of protection, this makes the phenomenon of leaky vaccines much more difficult to happen, so much that it has not been found even once.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There is no scientific evidence for a delay of more than six weeks in administering the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid, say experts from the World Health Organization.

The UK is planning to postpone giving the second dose of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines by up to 12 weeks – twice the length of time for which there is data, according to the WHO.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/05/no-data-to-support-uk-delay-of-vaccines-second-dose-says-who

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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