The more people infected with corona, the more mutation possibilities the virus has. The US disease protection agency CDC warns of variants that circumvent vaccination protection.
Atlanta / Frankfurt – Since the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus appeared at the end of 2019, mutations have created several corona variants that have spread and have largely replaced the original type. So far, the existing vaccines have been effective against these variants. But that could soon change, warns the US disease control agency CDC.
“The vaccines work very well and protect us from serious disease and death,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky at a press conference on Tuesday (July 27, 2021). The big concern, however, is “that the next variant that appears may be able to bypass our vaccinations,” says Walensky, who adds: “It may be just a few mutations away.”
Corona variant Delta is on the advance – CDC warns of dangerous mutants
The number of corona cases is currently increasing worldwide, and the virus is particularly rampant among unvaccinated people. In the USA, the seven-day value of new corona infections has increased fivefold within a month, and Delta is also on the advance in Europe. The delta variant is considered to be very easily transferable; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it leads to more severe disease courses and a higher risk of being admitted to hospital.
|Alpha (B.1.1.7)||Discovered in the UK in September 2020|
|Beta (B.1.351)||Discovered in South Africa in May 2020|
|Gamma (P.1)||Discovered in Brazil in November 2020|
|Delta (B.1.617.2)||Discovered in India in October 2020|
US epidemic protection agency warns of new corona variants
According to the CDC, people who have been infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus carry higher viral loads – regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. This could lead to people who have been vaccinated being able to transmit the virus. This is a problem: the more people carry the virus, the more opportunities it has to mutate – this is how new variants of the coronavirus can emerge. “Some of them could be the jackpot that are even fitter than Delta,” fears Andrew Read, who deals with the development of evolutionary diseases, told Business Insider.
New Corona variants could breach vaccination protection – “Escape variants”
One fear is that the Delta variant will mutate and then spread even better – Read speaks of a “Delta Plus” variant. However, it is also possible that the mutations of the Delta and Alpha variants combine – then an even more dangerous Corona variant could arise. It is also possible that mutations in the future will affect the spike protein with which the coronavirus penetrates human cells and which is the point of attack for the currently existing vaccines and antibody drugs against corona. If the spike protein changes, vaccines and antibodies may no longer work properly because the coronavirus is no longer recognized. Such variants are called “escape variants” by experts because they escape the human immune system and its mechanisms.
A scary scenario that, according to experts, is not that far-fetched. The Business Insider quotes the microbiology professor Ravindra Gupta: “Escape variants that escape vaccines – we are not necessarily that far away.” (Tanja Banner)