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Previous coronavirus infection may offer less protection from new variant
British scientists and politicians have expressed concern that vaccines currently being deployed or in development could be less effective against the variant.

Scientists speaking at the virtual panel yesterday said there was not yet a clear answer to that question and that studies were continuing.

“We have reason to be concerned because the virus has found a way to escape from previous antibodies,” Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute, said.

“The world has underestimated this virus. This virus can evolve, it ... is adapting to us.”

[Image: cvctri1309.jpg]

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 19 — Previous infection with the coronavirus may offer less protection against the new variant first identified in South Africa, scientists said yesterday, although they hope that vaccines will still work.

Studies also found that the new variant binds more strongly and readily to human cells. That helps explain why it seems to be spreading around 50 per cent quicker than previous versions, leading South African epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim said.

The 501Y.V2 variant was identified by South African genomics experts late last year. It has been the main driver of a second wave of national Covid-19 infections, which hit a new daily peak above 21,000 cases earlier this month.

It is one of several new variants found in recent months, including others first discovered in England and Brazil, which scientists worry are hastening the spread of Covid-19.

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