Researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) have discovered that plasma collected from people infected with the SA coronavirus variant, 501Y.V2, contains antibodies that not only knock out 501Y.V2, but also provide some protection against the older lineage circulating in the first wave, reported Business Day (4 May 2021). By contrast, people infected with the original variant generate antibodies that have limited capacity to neutralise 501Y.V2. ‘It seems if you are infected with this variant, or you can design a vaccine with this variant, it might be crossprotective, and might leave the virus with not much room to go,’ said Alex Sigal from AHRI.

Previous work by a team at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases led by Penny Moore found 501Y.V2 could completely evade the antibodies generated in response to infection in SA’s first coronavirus wave in almost half the samples they studied.

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