Covid-19: People infected with 501Y.V2 may be protected from re-infection, say scientists

SA scientists have made a discovering on the variant.

Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

  • The 501Y.V2 Covid-19 variant is ready to generate immune responses that neutralises itself and different lineages.
  • Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande says this implies vaccines that deal with the brand new variant, can now be developed.
  • Nzimande mentioned the discovering by the scientists is vital within the combat towards Covid-19.

Scientists in South Africa have discovered that individuals infected by the Covid-19 501Y.V2 variant developed antibodies and may be protected from potential re-infection.

But they’ve warned that this doesn’t imply non-pharmaceutical protocols shouldn’t be adhered to by those that examined optimistic for the virus as a result of the outcomes had been nonetheless being examined.

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The scientists, together with Professor Tulio de Oliveira of Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), Koleka Mlisana, government supervisor on the NHLS and Penny Moore from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases – introduced that the brand new variant offers immune responses that protects folks from getting different variants of the virus.

These findings had been introduced throughout a joint media briefing on Wednesday held by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The scientists discovered that plasma collected from individuals who had been infected with the brand new variant had a superb neutralising exercise, additionally towards “first wave” viruses and potential different variants.

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They, amongst different elements, detected {that a} new variant with a number of spike mutations affected some vaccine responses and that individuals infected with the virus had immunity towards the variant and different potential lineages.

The scientists introduced that the findings had been vital for the design of a vaccine and prompt that vaccines that had been modified to comprise the variant spike had been more likely to defend towards a number of variants.

They additionally introduced that vaccine builders had been testing the second technology antibodies.

Non-pharmaceutical protocols

Scientist Penny Moore mentioned, regardless of the findings, it was vital that individuals who had been infected with the 501Y.V2 variant, continued adhering to the prescribed non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“We have known for a long time that people who are infected develop good antibody responses, but there are many questions we don’t know. We don’t know how long those antibodies do last in people who have become infected.

“And we do not know the way a lot antibody is sufficient to defend you from re-infection. So, whereas we assume that individuals who have grow to be infected with the brand new variant are protected to some extent from re-infection, we do not know the way lengthy that safety will final,” Professor Moore said.

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The scientists said the results should be received as good news as the country continues to face the Covid-19 challenge. 

News24 reported last year that genomics scientists from across the country, who analysed the genetic samples of the virus since the start of the pandemic, under the auspices of KRISP, discovered the 501Y.V2 variant. 

The new variant, which has between 10 and 20 new mutations, was seen spreading rapidly since the end of September last year. 

Oliveira said the new variant has many more mutations, even where they are not wanted. 

“So the 501Y.V2 has round 9 mutations, with these three ones being essential; the 417, 484 and 501, as a result of the 501 has been related with excessive transmission and the 484 with decreased neutralisation of antibodies…,” Oliveira said. 

Oliveira said Dr Alex Sigal, in his research, noticed that in the 501Y.V2 variant, as more plasma was added from previous infection – resulted in neutralisation. 

Presenting the results, Sigal said they found the new variant could neutralise itself. 


“So, when you have greater concentrations of your blood, subsequently, antibodies, you should have no virus as a result of it is being blocked by these antibodies and as you go to decrease concentrations you get increasingly virus,” he said. 

“What was stunning to us is what occurred to first wave virus; so we used this plasma from individuals who had been infected on this newest wave with the 501Y.V2 and we used it towards the primary wave virus, the sooner variant – and what we discovered that it might neutralise itself,” Sigal said.

Mkhize commended Nzimande’s department for supporting the work done by the researchers, adding that it was encouraging. 

Mkhize said the new discovery on the new variant was a huge boost in the scientific knowledge necessary to control Covid-19. He added that this opened a conversation with the manufacturers of various vaccines, stating they need to also target 501Y.V2. 

“We once more need to commend them for that, as a result of that is the group that first confirmed us that the change within the second wave was truly pushed by the predominance of this variant, 501Y.V2. 

“We are going to be approaching the vaccination programme with this knowledge in mind. We hope that this [information] that has been demonstrated is actually going to help us as we move on advancing in the area of surveillance genomics…” 

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