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Current COVID-19 measures work just as well for new variant - NICD

The NICD's Professor Penny Moore said that they'd picked up that the new variant, dubbed 501Y.V2, was slightly less sensitive to antibodies than the old variant was but despite these new developments, people should stick to safety measures geared at keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - Do you have protection against the second coronavirus variant if you're recovered from COVID-19 before?

That's a question that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recently tried to answer through conducting a comparative laboratory study.

Scientists said that people who'd recovered from the disease usually developed neutralising antibodies which remained in their blood for at least five to six months, sometimes longer.

Wits University and the NICD's Professor Penny Moore, said that they evaluated 44 convalescent donors' samples who'd previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

"What we do is we take the old variant and the new variant and test against blood from people that were infected in the first wave and we ask if the new variant is less sensitive to antibodies than the old variant. That tells if there's an increased risk of reinfection."

Moore said that they'd picked up that the new variant, dubbed 501Y.V2, was slightly less sensitive to antibodies than the old variant was.

"That does raise the possibility that people that were infected with the old variant might be more susceptible to reinfection."

She said that despite these new developments regarding the coronavirus, people should stick to safety measures geared at keeping COVID-19 at bay.

"Wearing masks, social distancing and sanitising work just as well against the new variant as they did against the old variant, so while all of this information that's in the press may sound very alarming, what we do to manage the new variant and this epidemic in South Africa doesn't change, we're still relying on people to use measures that worked against the old variant. Those will work just as well."

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