Vaccinated sick people should be tested: This is the only way to determine which variant the vaccination is effective against.
The re is increasing evidence that some new variants of the coronavirus reduce the protective effect of a vaccination. This seems to be the case in particular for B1.351, the variant that was first discovered in South Africa.
Tanja Stadler from ETH Zurich is one of the scientists who keeps an eye on all the different variants that are circulating in Switzerland. Your laboratory analyzes the genetic makeup of numerous viruses from positive corona tests.
B1.351 first found in South Africa
In terms of numbers, the most important in Switzerland is the British variant, also known as B.1.1.7. Around 2,000 cases have been discovered so far, much more than the South African variant. But this still worries her, says Stadler: “Based on the new variant from South Africa, we can see that certain mutations have occurred in which it is obvious that vaccinations no longer provide the same protection as for known variants.”
Because the virus is constantly changing, other variants with similar properties could also appear. For example, this appears to be the case for the new Brazilian variant, which was first seen in Switzerland this week.
And of the British variant B.1.1.7, sub-forms with an additional mutation have emerged in England, which could also reduce the protection of vaccines. That is why Stadler says: “If there are mutations, it can happen again and again. So it is important that we keep an eye on this and can react quickly if something like this occurs. “
Symptoms despite vaccination: Have an examination
That means: «We consider it essential that – as soon as a vaccinated person has tested positive – we sequence the virus. That we can see very quickly if new variants arise where the vaccinations are no longer working well enough. ” Or that you can quickly see whether suspicious variants like the South African actually also infect vaccinated people.
The Federal Office of Public Health also considers this monitoring to be necessary, says Patrick Mathys from the BAG: “Monitoring in this area is of central importance. If there are indeed variants that can withstand a vaccination, further measures are imperative in order to be able to slow down the spread. ”
The FOPH prepares the instructions to test centers and doctors so that, in the event of a positive test result, they definitely clarify whether the person has been vaccinated and immediately pass on the corresponding virus samples for genetic analysis.
The canton doctors have already been informed that the exact procedure is in preparation, says the BAG. Stadler says the analysis laboratories are ready: “From then on, we have standardized sequences for sequencing, it’s a routine. All of the bioinformatics and the analyzes behind it have now all been automated, so that we can really see very quickly what kind of virus it is. ”
Regardless of this uncertainty: the vaccines that are used in Switzerland protect very well against the coronavirus. But all vaccinated, says Stadler, should still remember: If there are symptoms that indicate Corona, definitely to the test so that the researchers can quickly analyze what the Corona virus has just hatched again.
Have you already been vaccinated? Let us know your experience in the comments.