Coronavirus Variant In South Africa Seems To Evade Antibody
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Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the US FDA has warned that a coronavirus variant identified in South Africa may evade antibody drugs that treat COVID-19. He said that early evidence suggested that the new variant could partially escape antibodies that fight the coronavirus.

"We don't know exactly because we don't know exactly how this variant has behaved in people who have been treated with these different approaches," he said, adding: "Vaccines can become backstop against variants really getting a foothold here in the United States, but we need to quicken the pace of vaccination."

The variant in South Africa has also been associated with a higher viral load, or higher concentration of virus particles in the body, possibly contributing to higher levels of transmission.

It's normal for viruses to mutate over time, and eventually certain combinations of mutations can create new variants. The variants identified in South Africa and the UK are causing concern because they have an unusual number of mutations including in the spike protein. It's likely that this makes them more contagious.

Scientists are still investigating exactly how the different mutations change the virus' behavior, including whether the vaccines available will work against them. Experts have predicted that vaccines will still work against the variant identified in the UK, but it's less clear for the one in South Africa.

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