Rome, 31 July 2021 – After the Delta, which has now become the prevalent strain of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, Beta variant to raise new concerns among experts because it is considered dangerous and, albeit still slightly, has increased in recent weeks. The Beta mutation, the so-called “South African”, it is in fact so far the least widespread among the four main variants of the coronavirus (Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta) but remains under observation because it is able to overcome the immune defenses guaranteed by vaccines.
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What the Ministry of Health says
The Ministry of Health yesterday released an update on the four variants that worry WHO and ECDC experts the most. And compared to the Beta variant (Variant 501Y.V2, also known as B.1.351) identified in South Africa, he explains that the “preliminary data indicate that, although it does not seem characterized by greater transmissibility, this variant could induce a partial “immune escape” effect against some monoclonal antibodies. As this effect could potentially also affect the efficacy of vaccine-induced antibodies, this variant comes carefully monitored “. It means that in the Beta the ability to have a partial immuno-evasion was observed and therefore can resist vaccines.
“We expected the exploit of the Delta variant, given its high transmission speed: it can run a lot if not contained adequately but the vaccine is proving effective – he said. Gianni Rezza, Director General of Prevention of the Ministry of Health – The Beta, the one that creates the most problems luckily has one instead very low incidence of 0.4%“.
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The spread of variants in Italy
“It should be noted, albeit extremely limited, the increase of the Beta variant (B.1.351) more characterized by a partial immuno-evasion “was highlighted in the latest rapid survey conducted by the ISS, the Higher Institute of Health, and by the Ministry of Health, together with Regions and the Bruno Kessler Foundation.
Compared to the latest available estimate on the prevalence of four variants of the coronavirus in Italy, the so-called Alpha or “English” variant (B.1.1.7) on 22 June was 57.8%, down from 88.1% on 18 May, while on 20 July it had dropped to 3 ,2%. There Beta variant o “South African” (B.1.351) at the end of June had not been reported in any Italian region while now it has been found and is at 0.4%. The Gamma or “Brazilian” variant (P.1) had a prevalence of 11.8% on June 22, while on June 20 it dropped to 1.4%. The Delta or “Indian” variant (B.1.167.2) had a prevalence of 22.7% on 22 June and had a sharp increase, becoming the 94.8% prevalent strain found on July 20.
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