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South Africa variant - 501.V2 thread

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  • #16

    Dr Zweli Mkhize

    Dec 23
    Today we report, with concern, a cumulative total of 954 258 cases of #COVID19, with 14 046 new cases identified since the last report at a positivity rate of 26%.



    • #17
      South African health workers stretched as COVID-19 infections near 1 million

      By Shafiek Tassiem, Wendell Roelf

      JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Matron Annamarie Odendaal has cancelled all staff holiday on the COVID-19 ward at the private Arwyp Medical Centre in Johannesburg as a second wave of the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm South Africa’s health system.


      Private hospital group Mediclinic said the number of patients seeking care at its hospitals in Western Cape and rising incidents in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng had already exceeded those in the first peak and the majority of its ICU and high care units were operating at full capacity.

      “With the new strain we saw that the patients are not recovering so easy and this is a problem,” said matron Odendaal.

      During the first wave earlier this year, her hospital had fewer ICU patients, but now “they do not respond well under treatment so they do end up in ICU 90% of the times.”

      (I bolded and put in red the last two sentences of this article. I consider this important information.)


      • #18
        'It would appear new Covid-19 variant has higher transmissibility': experts
        Claire Keeton

        SA's new coronavirus variant has rapidly displaced others but little is known about it yet - including whether it makes people sicker - though preliminary data suggests it is highly transmissible.

        Known as 501Y.V2, it has quickly become the main variant circulating in Western Cape and Eastern Cape hotspots. Carolyn Williamson, head of medical virology at the University of Cape Town, said samples from the Garden Route in October contained no virus mutations. By early November, about 40% showed the V2 mutation and by late November it was up to 80%.

        "There are 20 different variants but this one has rapidly dominated," Williamson said.

        Willem Hanekom, director of the Africa Health Research Institute in KwaZulu-Natal and head of a research consortium of 33 scientists investigating the new variant, said it was the dominant lineage of the second wave.

        The variant emerged in the Eastern Cape and spread rapidly to the Western Cape. It has not yet been identified conclusively in Gauteng or the Free State, according to the scientists who are analysing it.

        Hanekom said: "It is likely to [reach] everywhere if it follows the patterns. It is likely to transmit more easily and we have heard reports that younger people are more infected and [sicker] with it than any other variants. We need to confirm this."



        • #19
          ‘New wave’ Covid-19 curbs loom as hospitals fill up, oxygen is rationed

          27 December 2020 - 00:05BY CLAIRE KEETON

          Tougher restrictions could be imposed nationwide when the National Coronavirus Command Council meets this week to discuss a Covid-19 resurgence, partly driven by a highly transmissible mutation of the virus.


          Dr Andrea Mendelsohn, a senior Western Cape medical officer, wrote in an open letter to Cape Town this week: "Once the beds are full and oxygen used up - we are rapidly approaching that point - then my hospital and so many others will not be able to help. They will be clearing stations for corpses. This is my nightmare and yours.

          "If hypoxic patients - where there's a lack of oxygen in the blood - are put on a waiting list for high-flow nasal oxygen, they are in all likelihood waiting to die, she wrote, appealing to people to wear masks, practise social distancing and socialise outdoors.

          Dr Katrin Stüve, a senior internal medicine specialist at Helderberg Hospital in Somerset West, said people were "a lot sicker this time, with patients between 30 and 50, with no comorbidities, more critical and succumbing to the disease". She added: "In our hospital we have a small oxygen tank that used to be filled once a week, but now it gets filled every day."


          (Okieman Comment: I suggest taking the time to read this article. I have bolded and put in red some of the text I found to be most important. It is one that is hard to read but I believe the world needs to look at this variant very closely. Most of the media is giving lots of attention to the UK variant, and understandably so, but this variant may be significantly more dangerous.)


          • #20
            Update: New UK, South African variant Covid strains detected in Finland

            Three people have been diagnosed with two different strains of the virus.

            Three people who recently returned to Finland from abroad have been diagnosed with new strains of the coronavirus, according to a joint press release from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM), the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS).

            Two of the infections are a variant of the coronavirus that was recently identified in the UK and one has been confirmed to have been infected by the variant found in South Africa.

            The strains were identified in a collaboration between the HUS and the virology laboratories of the University of Helsinki.

            According to the joint statement, the infected patients are presently in good condition and are being treated in isolation. People who may have been exposed to the new virus variants have been quarantined and have been asked to undergo a coronavirus test.




            • #21
              SA back to 'adjusted' Level 3 - here are some of the new rules

              Luke Daniel , Business Insider SA
              Dec 28, 2020, 08:45 PM

              South Africa will be subjected to “adjusted” Level 3 lockdown regulations amid a surge of Covid-19 infections. Bans on social gatherings, an earlier curfew, and limitations on the sale of alcohol were among some of the strictest measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.
              Jail or fine for not wearing a mask in public

              It is compulsory to wear a mask in a public space. Anyone who does not wear a mask is committing an offence and can be arrested. Offenders can face up to six months in prison or a fine, or both.

              “From now on it is compulsory for every person to wear a mask in a public space,” said Ramaphosa. “A person who does not wear a cloth mask covering over the nose and mouth in a public place will be committing an offence.”



              • #22
                Coronavirus Variant in South Africa Sparks Fear of Faster Spread, Possible Reinfection

                Discovery of new variant coincided with a surge in South African Covid-19 cases past the one million mark

                South African doctors and researchers battling a second wave of Covid-19 cases are racing to understand what role a new coronavirus variant might play in the new surge of infections.


                Richard Lessells, an infectious-disease specialist at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, or KRISP—the group of scientists who sequenced the South African variant—said its discovery has coincided with another worrying development: Doctors are reporting more patients, including health-care workers, who are testing positive for Covid-19 a second time, after having had it in the first wave.

                “We are genuinely concerned, and that’s why we need to do the research to understand this variant as quickly as we can,” said Dr. Lessells.

                Dr. Lessells and doctors treating Covid-19 patients in South Africa said they haven’t been able to prove whether these repeat positive tests are genuine reinfections—which many scientists have believed are exceedingly rare—or the resurgence of an earlier illness. South Africa’s public health-care system generally tests only people who have Covid-19 symptoms.


                At Tygerberg Hospital, the main public hospital treating coronavirus patients in Cape Town, doctors are seeing both patients and health-care workers testing positive again within three months of a previous infection, a spokeswoman said. What doctors don’t know, she said, is whether these repeat positives are due to true reinfections, or to some people carrying the virus for a longer time. Health officials are currently checking if they can isolate the new variant from the new testing samples, the spokeswoman said.

                One intern doctor at another public hospital in Cape Town interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said four of her fellow interns had recently tested positive for a second time, after getting Covid-19 early in the first wave. Another doctor at a maternity hospital in another South African hot spot said she herself tested positive again this week after suffering Covid-19 symptoms for a second time since August.



                (Okieman Comment: This article is worth reading in whole. I recommend taking the time to do so.)


                • yielddude
                  yielddude commented
                  Editing a comment
                  okieman, I don't have a subscription to WSJ, but if you post the whole article here, I'll read it. Thanks either way.

              • #23
                South Africa Covid variant is 'more infectious' than Kent strain, professor warns

                Oxford University's Regius Professor of Medicine, Sir John Bell, said the South Africa Covid variant may already be in the UK but there's no evidence it's more dangerous, just that it's more infectious
                Lucy Skoulding
                • 18:09, 3 JAN 2021

                The South Africa strain of Covid is "more worrying" and there is a question mark over if current vaccines will work on it, according to Oxford University's Regius Professor of Medicine.

                Sir John Bell, said the South Africa variant is more concerning than the Kent strain "by some margin" because of how quickly it can spread.


                He said: "There's still the research to be done, but if you want my gut feeling, I think the vaccine will be effective against the Kent strain and I don't know about the South African strain. I think there's a big question mark above that.


                Scientists at Porton Down laboratories are carrying out urgent studies on the new strain - which South African authorities say appears to have a larger impact on young people. South Africa recorded more than 50,000 excess deaths in 2020.




                • #24
                  South African Covid variant reported in southern Switzerland

                  Health officials in Italian-speaking Switzerland have reported their first case of the South African mutation of the coronavirus. Switzerland has documented at least three cases of the South African variant and ten cases of the variant from Britain, which are apparently more contagious than the original.

                  Health officials in Italian-speaking Switzerland have reported their first case of the South African mutation of the coronavirus. Switzerland has documented at least three cases of the South African variant and ten cases of the variant from Britain, which are apparently more contagious than the original.




                  • #25
                    South African Covid variant appears to ‘obviate’ antibody drugs, Dr. Scott Gottlieb says

                    PUBLISHED TUE, JAN 5 20218:43 PM ESTUPDATED WED, JAN 6 202112:43 AM EST


                    “The South Africa variant is very concerning right now because it does appear that it may obviate some of our medical countermeasures, particularly the antibody drugs,” said the former FDA chief in the Trump administration in an interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” on Tuesday evening. “Right now that strain does appear to be prevalent in South America and Brazil, the two parts of the world, right now, that are in their summer, but also experiencing a very dense epidemic, and that’s concerning.

                    The South African variant is also known as 501.V2, and in mid-December officials reported that 501.V2 had been largely replacing other strains of the coronavirus as early as November. South Africa has already sustained the more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 30,000 deaths, the most on the African continent.

                    Gottlieb cited experimental evidence from Bloom Lab, and explained 501.V2 does appear to partially escape prior immunity. It means that some of the antibodies people produce when they get infected with Covid, as well as the antibody drugs, may not be quite as effective.




                    • #26
                      — Bloom Lab (@jbloom_lab) January 5, 2021

                      “The new variant has mutated a part of the spike protein that our antibodies bind to, to try to clear the virus itself, so this is concerning,” Gottlieb said. “Now, the vaccine can become a backstop against these variants really getting more of a foothold here in the United States, but we need to quicken the pace of vaccination.”

                      “It really is a race against time trying to get more vaccine into people’s arms before these new variants become more prevalent here in the United States,” said Gottlieb.

                      If the 501.V2 strain can evade antibodies, then it will evade all antibodies that can bind to the spike protein of the original coronavirus strains. This includes neutralizing antibodies that the immune system produces in response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the neutralizing antibodies used in monoclonal drug therapies like the drug President Trump took during his bout with COVID-19, and the neutralizing antibodies that vaccines will elicit.

                      It’s unclear how effective vaccines will be against the South African strain, as more research will be required. Drugmakers can adapt the vaccines to address the new 501.V2 spike, but that will take some time. Even if current vaccines and antibody drugs have a lower efficacy against 501.V2, they could still provide some protection.

                      “The mutations that most reduce antibody binding usually occur at just a few sites in the [receptor-binding domain (RBD)]’s receptor binding motif,” Bloom Lab’s abstract reads. “The most important site is E484, where neutralization by some sera is reduced >10-fold by several mutations, including one in emerging viral lineages in South Africa and Brazil. Going forward, these serum escape maps can inform surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 evolution.”

                      Bloom Lab’s study is available in preprint form at this link, but the research has not been reviewed.

                      Tags: 501.V2, coronavirus, covid-19, Scott Gottlieb


                      • #27
                        hat tip Michael Coston

                        Covid strain found in South Africa ‘could evade’ Eli Lilly’s antibody drug, CEO warns

                        PUBLISHED TUE, JAN 12 20218:45 AM ESTUPDATED TUE, JAN 12 20219:06 AM EST
                        • The Covid variant initially found in South Africa “could evade our medicines,” Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks told CNBC on Tuesday.
                        • “The South African variant ... is the one of concern. It has more dramatic mutations to that spike protein,” Ricks said.
                        • By contrast, Ricks said he was confident Lilly’s antibody drug would work against the strain initially found in the U.K.


                        Covid variant found in South Africa ‘could evade’ Eli Lilly's antibody drug: CEO (


                        Please see:

                        New COVID-19 variant identified - 501.V2 p in South Africa, South America, Brazil, Switzerland - appears to ‘obviate’ antibody drugs

                        B.1.1.7 Variant of COVID19 Coronavirus. More contagious. Confirmed - and critical -B117 infection of new variant of patient with antibodies for old variant


                        • #28

                          SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2, a novel lineage of the coronavirus causing COVID-19, contains multiple mutations within two immunodominant domains of the spike protein. Here we show that this lineage exhibits complete escape from three classes of therapeutically relevant monoclonal antibodies. Furthermore 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralizing antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma. These data highlight the prospect of reinfection with antigenically distinct variants and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.


                          • #29

                            SA has now seen 110,000 ‘excess’ deaths - with a sharp rise among the under 60s in recent weeks
                            Business Insider SA
                            Jan 25, 2021, 05:03 PM

                            New data from the South African Medical Research Council show 110,000 excess deaths in South Africa since May to mid-January.
                            Excess deaths measure the total number of fatalities from natural causes compared with the expected death rate in a “normal” year.
                            It is expected that the vast majority of these deaths are linked to Covid.
                            SA’s second wave is far worse than its first – with a near vertical climb in the death rate of those under 60 as well.

                            New data released by the South African Medical Research Council show a shocking rise in the number of excess deaths in recent weeks.

                            Excess deaths measure the total number of fatalities from natural causes compared with the expected death rate in a “normal” year. The SAMRC uses official death statistics, as well as estimates of deaths that may not be registered, to determine the total number of fatalities in SA.

                            In total, the SAMRC calculates that there were more than 110,000 “excess” deaths from natural causes since May (when these deaths first started to pick up) to mid-January...


                            • #30
                              COVID-19: South African Variant Found in Thessaloniki - Greece

                              By Nick Kampouris
                              Jan 31, 2021

                              The new South African COVID-19 variant has been found in Thessaloniki, Greece, it was made public on Sunday.
                              Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city and capital of the region of Macedonia. It is home to approximately one million people.

                              ... According to Greece’s iefimerida website, the new variant has been found in positive cases reported on priests. The clergymen live and work in the broader area of Neapolis in Thessaloniki.

                              The two top officials’ visit to Thessaloniki was considered imperative. It came following a teleconference held earlier on Sunday with the participation of professor of infectious diseases Sotiris Tsiodras.

                              Other epidemiologists also participated in the teleconference. They all tried to evaluate the situation in the region.