What is Gamma Variant? As Russia faces a surge in coronavirus cases the authorities have reported that the Gamma variant of novel coronavirus has also found its way into the country. The Gamma variant was first detected in January this year, in Brazil. As seen in the case of Delta variant, Gamma too can spread easily and reportedly reduces the effectiveness of antibodies.
Here is what we know so far about the Gamma Variant:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Gamma or the P.1 variant of novel coronavirus was first identified in Japan/Brazil.
- After it was detected in Brazil, the variant caused a widespread infection in the city of Manaus.
- The variant significantly reduces the efficacy of monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19.
- According to the Global Virus Network (GVN), the Gamma variant has shown noticeable transmissibility (quality of disease to pass from one person to another).
- The mutation N501Y, K417N and E484K in the "receptor building domain of spike protein" of the variant amplify its ability to bind to human ACE2 receptors.
- The Gamma variant has spread to more than ten countries so far, including the United Kingdom.
Is the variant more lethal?
So far, there is no strong evidence of enhanced lethality with respect to the Gamma variant of the coronavirus. However, the variant has shown to be about 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus strain. More studies are needed to be done on its properties to verify if the variant is more lethal than the other mutations of the virus or not.
Do COVID-19 vaccines work on the Gamma variant?
As the variant contains the potential immune escape mutation, it has shown to be relatively resistant to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. However, the magnitude of the resistance is said to be modest. In a study done among about 70,000 health care workers in Manaus, China's CoronaVac vaccine was shown to be 50 percent effective in preventing the illness 14 days after the first dose of the vaccine was administered.