Covid-19 mutations and new strains. How concerned should we be?

Scaletail

Active Member
a theory.
A more infectious mutation would benefit from being no more deadly, maybe less so.
Its transmitability depends on more people contracting it. Affecting a broader range of people would be beneficial, maybe that's why this variant is allegedly more of an issue for younger people.
If a virus were more deadly, it would kill or make someone more sick before it was able to spread as far.
The higher the mortality, the less it will spread.
Having said that, this virus is an alarm signal. Something far worse occurring at some point isn't out of the question. Just because something happens infrequently, doesn't mean its not a real possibility. Ebola was a very scary thing when it flared up. But it caused far less damage globally. Maybe because it was more deadly. Covid seems to have hit a balance that allowed it to spread further and faster.
 

Mevlock

Member
The South African variant seems to be causing serious concern.

Greater possibility that it will evade vaccines. 6 weeks to tweak existing ones? That's no good if it will take months to manufacture. We don't even have anywhere near enough of the existing vaccines right now. The government was obviously hoping to get the economy back on it's feet before summer. And we're just getting started vaccinating the world.

All very depressing.

I suppose if existing vaccines are good enough to blunt the effect of the South African one (which seems a possibility) then that would be fine.

Rolling out the existing vaccines even with new resistant variants should still get us mostly back to normal and we'll just have to have a tweaked yearly booster for new variants. Hopefully that will do.
 
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Lee

Moderator
The South African variant seems to be causing serious concern.

Greater possibility that it will evade vaccines. 6 weeks to tweak existing ones? That's no good if it will take months to manufacture. We don't even have anywhere near enough of the existing vaccines right now. The government was obviously hoping to get the economy back on it's feet before summer. And we're just getting started vaccinating the world.

All very depressing.

I suppose if existing vaccines are good enough to blunt the effect of the South African one (which seems a possibility) then that would be fine.

Rolling out the existing vaccines even with new resistant variants should still get us mostly back to normal and we'll just have to have a tweaked yearly booster for new variants. Hopefully that will do.
What are the odds, it's like the virus knew we'd got a vaccine ready.
 

Mevlock

Member
What are the odds, it's like the virus knew we'd got a vaccine ready.
Maybe that will work in our favour.

Its just random mutations so far, or mutations from long term infections in immune suppressed individuals.

They aren't mutations brought about from evolutionary pressure via vaccines.

However I have zero qualifications in the field just random musings here.
 

Mevlock

Member
Guess it won’t do. Every year people dying from the flu or flu connected pneumonia.
And this although there is an effective vaccine available. We know nearly nothing about COVID vaccine efficiency. Still hoping...

Every year over half a million people die in the UK. Every. Single. Year.

You can't eliminate all risk.

As long we can prevent the majority of hospitalisations and deaths life will go back to normal eventually.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
All the Covid vaccines are much more effective than the flu ones. Or do you mean something else?
 

starfarer

Well-known Member
True Vaccine Efficacy. Pfizer estimates it's around 60% but for trial purposes Pfizer, Oxford and Moderna set at 30% for null hypothesis purposes.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Please explain your logic.
 

Scaletail

Active Member
Regarding vaccines, I m not at all knowledgeable, but doesn't flu virus mutate so regularly that a new vaccine is required every year? Will covid also mutate and make current vaccines innefective? Especially as its taking so long to get the population vaccinated. By the time everyone's done, it'll need a new one. Corona virus vaccines don't last a long time?
 

lee667

Distinguished Member
If it does transpire that the South African variant has some or total resistency to vaccines then that is a potential game changer so early into things.

I said to my wife months ago that covid deaths will overtake flu deaths each year. Has the government even said what will happen with regards to testing and tracing once the vaccinations are done? If its stopped then this gives the virus the perfect opportunity to mutate and run rampant again.
 

Mevlock

Member
If it does transpire that the South African variant has some or total resistency to vaccines then that is a potential game changer so early into things.

I said to my wife months ago that covid deaths will overtake flu deaths each year. Has the government even said what will happen with regards to testing and tracing once the vaccinations are done? If its stopped then this gives the virus the perfect opportunity to mutate and run rampant again.

I doubt we'll continue to test and trace. The virus will continue to exist, it'll be endemic. If few people are ending up in hospital there's no point and it's cripplingly expensive.

Although we'll need to keep some kind of system in place in case of future viruses, it should have been there to begin with.

We will however continue to monitor for mutations. We already do more genome sequencing than any other country. This is exactly how we deal with the flu each year and that mutates regularly. We monitor for changes and adapt the flu vaccines. Scientists and vaccine manufacturers were expecting this and are prepared.
 

Aj33

Distinguished Member
Tiny study.... n=20 is barely a pilot study. That being said, the indication is good news. Now someone needs to crack on with a larger study.
 

Aj33

Distinguished Member
Just an aside, I worked at the William Harvey for a year in a scientific research capacity. Loved it.
 
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SteveAWOL

Distinguished Member
A somewhat reassuring thread from a virologist about how unlikely it is that mutations evolve which evade current vaccines and how rapidly they can be reformulated in that unlikely scenario...

 

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