Sumary of The beta variant: here’s what scientists know:
- “Although vaccines are helping us defeat this virus, we must continue to proceed with caution,” Jenny Harries, director general of the UK Health Security Agency, said in a statement on Friday.
- It has several mutations in a protein called the viral spike, which helps the virus adhere better to human cells.
- The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have called the beta variant “worrisome.
- ” For example, in February South Africa stopped using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after clinical trials suggested that the vaccine did not provide good protection against mild or moderate illness caused by beta.
- (However, subsequent research has suggested that several licensed vaccines do provide strong protection against severe disease caused by this variant.
- ) In the past four weeks, beta has accounted for just 5.6 percent of sequenced virus samples in South Africa, according to GISAID, a repository of viral genomes.