There is no surprise there are different variants of the virus which causes Covid-19 because it was bound to mutate – science says that this is simply what they do.
Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Stuart Ray, said that all RNA viruses mutate over time and made an example of the flu virus often changing, hence doctors recommending that people get a flu vaccine every year.
Today there are several variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and at the end of May 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a naming system using letters from the Greek alphabet to easily refer to the variants.
It’s alleged that the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates at a slower rate than the flu virus, which is good news for scientists who are in the process of developing vaccines and medication to treat Covid-19, according to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), but the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was shown to be less efficacious against the Beta variant, which was first detected in South Africa towards the end of 2020.
Professor on Bioinformatics and Director of the KwaZulu Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP), Tulio de Oliveira, discusses variants of the Covid-19 virus and the efficacy of vaccines in this sixth segment of Health24’s vaccine information series.
De Oliveira also weighs up looks at the benefits of vaccine-induced immunity versus natural immunity following infection.