A rare COVID-19 variant that has been detected in Angola and Sweden during Spring 2021 may compromise vaccine efficacy, a study published this week in Nature Molecular and Cellular Immunology suggests.
Researchers say that the A.30 variant, which likely originated in the African country, has developed several mutations to its spike protein that may allow it to evade antibodies elicited by vaccines and infections and avoid getting neutralized by them.
Many countries the globe over, Israel included, have largely based their pandemic response policies on their respective vaccine rollouts. However, A.30 increased adeptness in penetrating cellular membranes compared to other virus variants may force the world to rethink its coronavirus strategy.
The Jewish state announced last week that it will open its gates for vaccinated tourists starting November 1.
The decision, pending the approval of the coronavirus cabinet, initially excluded tourists from countries where the increasingly transmissible Delta coronavirus subvariant AY4.2 is rampant and those who have received the Russian-grown Sputnik V vaccine at least until December 1.
Following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last weekend in Sochi, Jerusalem said it will allow tourists vaccinated with Sputnik to enter its territory from November 15.
For the time being, A.30 remains fairly isolated, with very few sequenced cases since its discovery in Tanzania in February. Owing to its low prevalence, it is currently not classified as a Variant of Interest or Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Researchers suggest A.30 should be closely monitored in the coming future and countries should prioritize preventative measures that would stop an outbreak if the variant were to become more widespread.