Booster vaccines are the future in battle with COVID-19, a genome expert says

Modern bovine vaccines will require a steady increase against mutations due to mutations that make it more susceptible and capable of bypassing human immunity, the head of Britain’s effort to order the virus’s genomes told Reuters.

The novel coronavirus, which has killed 2.65 million people worldwide since it appeared in China in late 2019, goes around once every two weeks, slower than the flu or HIV, but enough to want tweaks to vaccines.

Sharon Peacock, who heads COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) which has recorded nearly half of the novel coronavirus genomes to date worldwide, said international co-operation was needed in the “cat and mouse” battle with the virus.

“We need to be aware that we must always have increased doses; Immunity to coronavirus will never last, ”Peacock told Reuters at the 55-acre Wellcome Sanger Institute non-profit campus outside Cambridge.

“We’re already tweaking the vaccines to deal with the virus’s evolutionary role – so changes are emerging that have a greater mix of mobility and the ability to evade part of our immune response. , ”She said.

Peacock said she was confident that steady elevation scenes – such as for flu – would be needed to deal with future changes but that the pace of vaccine innovation meant that these views could be developed at speed and spread. out to the crowd.

COG-UK was founded by Peacock, a professor at Cambridge, just a year ago with the help of the British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, as the virus spread across Britain to Britain.

Sharon Peacock, director of COVID-19 Genomics UK, on ​​the grounds of the Wellcome Sanger Institute campus |  REUTERS
Sharon Peacock, director of COVID-19 Genomics UK, on ​​the grounds of the Wellcome Sanger Institute campus | REUTERS

The consortium of public health and academic institutions is now the world’s deepest field of knowledge on the genetics of the virus: At sites across Britain, it has transmitted 349,205 genomes of the virus from a global effort of approximately 778,000 genomes.

On the intellectual front line at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, hundreds of scientists – many with PhDs, many volunteering and some listening to heavy metal or electronic beats – work seven days a week to create a family tree. the growing virus to map anxiety patterns. .

The Wellcome Sanger Institute has tracked more than half of all virus genomes in the UK after processing 19 million samples from PCR tests in a year. COG-UK follows around 30,000 genomes each week – more than the UK used to do in a year.

Three major coronavirus variants – first identified in Britain (known as B.1.1.7), Brazil (known as P1) and South Africa (known as B.1.351) – are under specific study.

Peacock said she was concerned about B.1.351.

“It’s more mobile, but it also has a mutation in gene transfer, called E484K, which is associated with less immunity – so our immunity is reduced against that virus, ”Said Peacock.

With 120 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, it is becoming increasingly difficult to track all types of mutations, so Peacock’s teams are thinking of “constellations of mutations”.

“So a constellation of mutations would be like a dashboard if you will – whatever mutations in the genome are of particular concern to us, the E484K has to be one of the top of the dashboard,” she said.

“So we are developing our thinking around that board of thought to think, regardless of the history and the line, about what mutations or constellation mutations are going to be biologically important and a different mix of ‘may have slightly different biological effects. ”

Peacock, however, warned of humiliation against a virus that caused so much death and economic destruction.

“One of the things the virus has taught me is that I can go wrong on a regular basis – I have to be very humble against a virus that we don’t know much about yet,” she said.

“There may be a difference out there that we have not yet discovered.”

There will, however, be pandemics in the future.

“I think it’s inevitable that we will have another virus that is a cause for concern. My hope is that, having learned what we have in this global pandemic, we will be better prepared to detect and contain it. ”

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