Health News: “All good things come in threes” is an old saying.

3 weeks of full school and kindergarten opening are over and we feel – it was good!

Yes, it was also exhausting and we all have to readjust every now and then and learn from the new situations, but the joy of being back clearly outweighs it.

Fortunately, on the “Corona front” things continue to be relatively quiet at our school, even though the infection numbers overall in the country are on the rise again and we’ll have to wait and see to what extent the mutants will make their presence felt.
The mutants – what a word… and it always causes inquiries among our students and also colleagues.

How do mutations occur in the first place?

When the human body develops antibodies to a virus, preventing an outbreak of disease, the virus must change its envelope to avoid being recognized by the antibodies and immune cells. So, to survive, it changes its outer proteins and develops new strains.

The mutants of SARS-CoV-2 have unwieldy names: B.1.1.7, N501Y, P1, E484K.

It is easy to get confused. Here is a short overview of the currently most important ones.

The British variant B.1.1.7

The B.1.1.7 line was first detected in the south of England. Apparently, the mutation increases the binding affinity to the ACE2 receptor. This mutation appears to be responsible for the increased infectivity of this variant for around 70%. It is not thought to lead to more severe disease. Nor does it limit the efficacy of vaccination, according to recent studies.

501.V2 South Africa and the Brazil variant

This variant first appeared in South Africa. Like B.1.1.7, it carries the N501Y mutation. What worries scientists more, however, is the mutation called E484K. It appears to be better able to hide from immune defenses, allowing reinfection. Studies have shown that antibodies made against other virus variants are less effective against this mutation. This variant is said to be 50 percent more infectious than the original variant, but does not lead to higher mortality. With this mutation, there have already been initial laboratory studies that suggest somewhat greater problems with the vaccine.

How does the body react to mutations?

Normally, the human body is able to protect itself against viruses. It produces antibodies that defend it against viral attacks and make it immune to the pathogen.

However, if the pathogen has already mutated and the antibodies produced are programmed to an older version of the pathogen, then these antibodies are much less effective.

For the same reason, we regularly get the common cold again and again. Our body has already formed antibodies for the previous colds, but we do not yet have antibodies for the newly mutated pathogen.

However, there is no reason to panic, because a virus does not necessarily become more dangerous through a mutation. Some mutations can also significantly weaken a virus.

Are the new vaccines now ineffective?

The vaccines are all designed to encode the information for the coronavirus spike protein in such a way that it stimulates our immune system appropriately despite the mutation.
Fortunately, it takes more than a few mutations for a virus to have its proteins altered so that they can bypass immune protection. Nevertheless, we know from influenza, for example, that flu viruses mutate very quickly and that vaccines have to be readjusted every flu season to remain effective.

As a result, the Corona vaccines will likely need to be further adjusted as well.

Nevertheless, with vaccinations starting up, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. More on this topic next time 🙂

Stay well everyone and confidently we start the next weeks until the Easter break,

Your health team of the DSN

© 2021 Deutsche Schule Nairobi - German School Nairobi | Website by Digital Tangent

Scroll to Top