Infections

The P.1 Coronavirus Variant

A coronavirus variant (called P.1) that was first detected in Brazil was just confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health as being the first documented case of the variant in the United States. This variant has been particularly worrying scientists because of the mutations it has that let the virus spread faster and evade the immune system more effectively. This evolution could make it easier for COVID-19 survivors to contract the disease again and could potentially impede the effectiveness of vaccines. While this is a daunting premonition, Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, wants us to remember that “even though everyone is obviously concerned about a virus evolving, your memory B cell responsiveness also evolves over time.”

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The mRNA Vaccine

These are truly novel times that we are experiencing, and the scientific community is no different. Interest in messenger RNA (mRNA) continues to grow within the medical community, especially since the developments of breakthrough COVID-19 vaccines. It is important to note that even after 30 years of research, mRNA vaccines have never before been approved for use in any disease, until now. However, researchers in Germany recently used mRNA technology to reduce disease activity in mice with Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), a disease similar to multiple sclerosis.

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Increase in Coronavirus Variants and Their Effects on the Vaccine

Recent developments concerning the COVID-19 virus are leading to an increase in questions and unknowns about it. While various vaccines are being distributed across the globe, recent findings on SARS-CoV-2 variants are worrying many. Some of these variants are known to spread faster and transmit more efficiently than other variants of the virus. Three of the most widespread variants are the UK variant (D614G), the Y453F mutation found in minks, and the N501Y cluster spreading in England.

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