After the Delta variant, now widespread in a hundred countries, Epsilon presents itself with a baggage of mutations that made it enter the group of variants of the SarsCoV2 virus that cause concern, the so-called Voc (Variants of concern). The mutations are detected by research coordinated by biochemist Matthew McCallum, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and published in the journal Science.
Identified for the first time in California, the Epsilon variant is still not very widespread in Europe and there are only two cases detected in Italy according to the international bank Gisaid, which collects the genetic sequences of the viruses.
The study published in Science wants to underline the importance of sequencing as one of the most important weapons to counteract the circulation of the virus. The analysis coordinated by McCallum is based on the analysis of 57 samples, he observed three mutations that make it resistant to antibodies and which are found on the Spike protein, the claw that the virus uses to enter cells.
The data indicate that, with its three mutations, the Epsilon variant is resistant to both antibodies generated by messenger RNA vaccines and those generated by SarsCoV2 virus infection. The published observations are based on the analysis of plasma collected from 15 people vaccinated with two doses of Moderna, from 33 vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer-BioNtech and from 9 who had been infected with SarsCoV2.
Reported at the beginning of 2021 in California, in May the Epsilon variant was widespread in 34 other countries and according to the Gisaid data band for the last four weeks it is now present in 44 countries, from the United States to South Korea, India and to Japan. In Europe, cases were found in Denmark (37 cases), Germany (10), Ireland and France (7), the Netherlands and Spain (5), Switzerland (4), Norway (3), Sweden, Finland and Italy (2) , Belgium (1).