Variants of COVID-Ravaged Observed in Brazil
March 24, 2021 – Uncontrolled spread of the most contagious coronavirus The Brazilian variant has created even more dangerous versions of the virus that causes COVID-19.
A team of researchers from Fiocruz, a large public health research laboratory run by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, has documented the changes. Their findings have just been published in a prepress on Virological.org, before peer review.
The study describes 11 coronavirus sequences from five Brazilian states. Each underwent significant changes in the virus receptor, making it one of the most popular variants. But, each underwent additional changes in another important region of the virus known as the N-terminal domain (NTD).
The changes were the removal of important sites for antibody binding. Many of these are significant deletions of the mutation that occurred independently in other circulatory variants and have been observed in viral mutations in exile patients with cancer, suggesting that it provides an important advantage to the virus.
Since the beginning of the year pandemic, scientists expected the virus to mutate or change. Viruses can also lose or gain parts of their genetic code. Molecular biology has a term for this: indel, meaning insertion or deletion. Read more about coronavirus variants here.
These insertions or deletions are more violent changes than a point mutation. When viral proteins occur in the lump, they can change the shape of the coronavirus, allowing the “key” antibodies that enter these binding sites to escape.
“A lot of antibodies are created for this NTD region. So these mutations are very likely to be even more resistant to virus neutralization,” author Felipe Naveca, Fiocruz, vice president of Amazon Research and Innovation, told Medscape.
The model developed by Naveca and his team suggests that deletion will limit the ability of antibodies to trap these viruses and prevent us from infecting them.
Naveca also says, however, that with indel these variants are still not uncommon. They were observed early, and scientists believe they are not yet widespread.
“But detection serves as a warning and we need to control their occurrence. That’s why genomic surveillance is done,” the researcher said.
“Shut down replica”
Brazil is in the midst of another devastating wave of COVID-19 infections, driven by variations and political inactivity. Hospitals have run out of bed and other essential supplies fans and oxygen, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has thought of asking citizens to put on masks and refusing to impose blockades, saying the price of the country’s economy would be too high.
Researchers who were not involved in the study said the findings should alert the world.
John Mellors, MD, head of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said the finding was “not surprising, but disturbing.”
Mellors and his colleagues were members of a team of researchers who documented one of the same changes in a cancer patient who had been battling the virus for more than two months.
Over time, genome sequencing revealed that the patient was treated with a convalescent plasma and antiviral drugs remdesivir in an attempt to boost his immune response, he was at least a host of different SARS-CoV-2 variants. The variants had many mutations caused by variants produced in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
N-terminal domain deletions documented in the new prepress have also been detected in other parts of the world.
A extra study, published in the journal earlier this month Science, found that other deletions also interfere with antibodies. To respond to infection or a vaccine, our bodies are made up of a whole orchestra of y-shaped antibodies designed to place a virus in different places. Therefore, the loss of one of these sites for antibodies to the virus does not, in itself, necessarily cause an alarm. But the more we change and change the shape of the coronavirus, the more our immune defenses lose the collective blow and eventually the changes can cause the virus to regenerate or vaccine.
Other researchers who did not participate in the study said the findings are interesting and worth seeing, but it is still too early to know for sure what this particular combination of mutations might mean.
“I’m sure there will be a follow-up article that will profile these to death and explain the exact effects of each of these, and I’m sure that’s in the corner,” said Dr. Pavitra Roychoudhury, a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Right now, according to The CDC, which is monitoring the variants, has no virus variants that cause tests, vaccines, or treatments to fail.
“The biggest move we all need to make is to insert the widest possible spread so that viruses don’t recur,” Mellors said. “No replication, no evolution. So if we close and expand replication, we’ll be fine, and that’s a huge commitment from around the world to turn that off.”
Public Health Measures Missing
The variables that most affect the evolution of the virus are the number of people infected and the length of time they have been infected. Scientists agree that in order to slow the evolution of the virus, it is essential to get vaccinated quickly and prevent people from circulating, something that is not happening in Brazil today.
“This is very important to ensure the effectiveness of vaccines in the future. They were not designed to deal with this number of mutations,” said author Tiago Gräf, who is also with Fiocruz.
“We advocate for the use of vaccines, and we believe they will continue to protect against serious diseases. But the virus is very different from the original, because new tests will have to be done to understand how effective they will be,” Graf says.
“We are showing that new variants have been created and their danger. But the public administration is ignoring our remarks. It is the result of the situation we are seeing today,” Graf says.