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Israeli Health Ministry official: Vaccine may not work on South African COVID strain

Health Ministry department of public services director Sharon Alroy-Preis warned that a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus may resist the vaccines which are being distributed to the citizenry.

“The South African variant is more troubling because it could cause serious illness among the young. It’s not yet clear how the vaccine will affect it and there’s preliminary research that is worrisome,” Alroy-Preis told a Knesset panel Wednesday,

“The new research tested 11 cases in relation to the antibodies developed by the existing vaccine and there is concern that the vaccines will be less effective [against this new strain]. If we reach the conclusion that it’s less effective, we will ask confirmed cases and those returning from South Africa to quarantine in hotels.”

The South African strain of the coronavirus is similar to a new British mutation in that both are more contagious than earlier strains of the disease. However, experts believe that the British mutation will not effect the vaccines’ effectiveness, while the South African variant has another mutation which could reduce their effectiveness.

According to Dr. Julian W. Tang, clinical virologist and honorary associate professor at Leicester University, “The South African variant differs significantly from the UK variant in several ways that may impact on vaccine effectiveness.”

He explained that although “both variants share the N501Y mutation … where the virus binds to the host cell … the South African variant has two more mutations … [which] may interfere more with vaccine effectiveness. This does not mean that the existing Covid-19 vaccines will not work at all, just that the antibodies induced by the current vaccines may not bind and neutralize the South African variant as well as it would the other circulating viruses.”

Source: Arutz Sheva