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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680On-line version ISSN 1669-9106


KANTOR, Isabel N.; LUTHY, Isabel A.  and  RITACCO, Viviana. SARS-CoV-2 variants and the so-called resistance to vaccines. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2021, vol.81, n.3, pp.421-426. ISSN 0025-7680.

RNA viruses (except retroviruses) replicate by the action of an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which lacks a proofreading exo nuclease and, consequently, errors may occur in each replication giving place to viral mutants. Depending on their fitness, these mutants either become extinct or thrive, spawning variants that escape the immune system. The most important SARS-CoV-2 mutations are those that alter the amino acid sequence in the viral S protein because this protein holds the key for the virus to enter the human cell. The more viruses replicate, the more they mutate, and the more likely it is that dominant resistant variants will appear. In such cases, more stringent measures for community protection will be required. Vaccines and polyclonal antibodies, which induce a response directed towards several sites along the S protein, would maintain effective protection against SARS-CoV-2 vari ants. Furthermore, vaccines appear to induce an increased helper and cytotoxic T-cell response, which may also be a biomarker of protection. In densely populated areas with insufficient protection measures, the virus spreads freely, thus increasing the likelihood of generating escape mutants. India and Manaus exemplify this situation. Natural evolution selects the mutants that multiply most efficiently without eliminating the host, thus facilitating their spread. Contrastingly, the circulation of viruses of high virulence and lethality (Ebola, hantavirus) that elimi nate the host remain limited to certain geographic areas, without further dissemination. Therefore, it would be expected that SARS-CoV-2 will evolve into more infectious and less virulent variants.

Keywords : Coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; Viral resistance; Escape variants; RNA polymerase; Virulence.

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