The epsilon variant of the novel coronavirus might be resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, creating another stark concern for those who are unvaccinated and vaccinated.
Can epsilon variant evade vaccine?
Researchers recently suggested that the epsilon variant — which was originally discovered in California and is currently spreading in Pakistan — “is resistant to all available vaccines,” according to India.com, which has been reporting on the variant’s spread in Pakistan.
This is based on research from a University of Washington study, which found that the variant is 20% more transmissible compared to previous COVID-19 strains.
- The study found the epsilon variant “is said to be almost as highly transmissible as the delta variant, which raged during the second wave of pandemic in India,” per India.com.
Moreover, the variant has mutations that “give this coronavirus variant of concern a means to totally evade specific monoclonal antibodies used in clinics and reduces the effectiveness of antibodies from the plasma of vaccinated people,” according to the University of Washington study, which was published in the latest edition of Science.
- The researchers created a visualization of the variant’s injection system to see how it would infect people over time.
- “One of the three mutations in the epsilon variant affected the receptor binding domain on the spike glycoprotein. This mutation reduced the neutralizing activity of 14 out of 34 neutralizing antibodies specific to that domain, including clinical stage antibodies,” according to the study.
Should you be worried over epsilon?
What about the lambda variant?
Earlier this week, a study that was published online through bioRxiv but has not been peer-reviewed found that the lambda variant has three mutations that make it resistant to antibodies created by the vaccine, as I wrote for the Deseret News.