A study by the USP and Syria warns of new variants of the coronavirus

April 26 at 10 a.m.

Author: Emílio Sant’Anna / Estadão


New variants of the coronavirus, which are able to deceive the immune system and better infect, should appear in the coming months, according to a study by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) and Hospital Sírio-Libanês. Published in the journal virus, the study warns that this is a high probability and will increase with the high prevalence of the coronavirus – with the return of social contacts – and it cannot be said that the lower mortality reported by Ômicron should be repeated. And the scenario remains worrying as cities like Shanghai, China are forced to close.

The survey looked at more than 150 scientific articles. Features of the virus were analyzed, such as its mutation potential, ability to control the immune system, infectivity, and vaccine efficacy. The greater the spread of the virus, the greater the likelihood of new variants emerging. “This is a question of probability. New variations are expected, the problem is to reduce the restrictions that increase the spread of the virus (social contact),” says Cristiane Guzzo, a researcher at the Department of Microbiology at the USP Institute of Biological Sciences and one of the authors of the article.

He explains that so far we are in a comfortable situation, which should last for the next few months, a period when the immunity created by the booster doses of vaccines and the high level of contamination of the ronmicron variant remains high. Thereafter, new contaminations should lead to the emergence of even more contagious variants, which should also reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.

“The declaration that the pandemic is over and that the virus has been defeated is not true,” says Pedro Galante, director of the bioinformatics research team at Sírio-Libanês Hospital, who is also one of the authors of the study. “We must continue to take all necessary precautions and measures to avoid infection,” he stresses.

“We’re just looking at the number of cases and deaths (descending) so we can tell if it’s safe or not. That’s not enough,” Cristiane says. the last circulation restriction in force in the capital of Rio de Janeiro, and its suspension followed the instructions of the Special Committee on Combating Covid-19.

Risk

Galante says mutations that may occur in the virus help explain why the idea that the virus becomes less lethal as it develops is not the rule. At the beginning of the pandemic, the infections began the day before the first symptoms, the study said. In the Delta variant, this period was extended to three days of asymptomatic infection, and 74% of the infections caused by that variant occurred in this window. “New versions have evolved to extend the asymptomatic period. In other words, people unknowingly care that they are polluted. The most important thing for the virus is to pass it from one person to another. What happens to a person after that (until death) doesn’t matter to him, ”he says.

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