Coronavirus: Two cases of Brazilian variant found in Israel for 1st time – The Jerusalem Post

A baby and a vaccinated adult who returned from abroad are infected with the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, the first time the strain has been found in Israel, the Health Ministry reported Monday. Nineteen foreign nationals were found to have the Indian variant, bringing the total number of carriers of this strain of the virus to 60, it said. A vaccinated adult was found to be infected with the Chilean variant, it added. No information regarding the severity of the infections was provided. New regulations restricting travel to high-risk countries came into effect on Monday. The Health Ministry reiterated its recommendation to avoid traveling abroad, including those who are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. There is no clear information about the efficacy of the vaccines against these variants, it said. Most virus mutations have no consequences. But a cluster of them can engender a new variant, and the virus may create a different protein as a consequence. In the case of the coronavirus, the key protein to consider is the spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus and allows it to penetrate host cells and cause infections. The Indian and the Brazilian variants have been defined by experts as “variants of concern,” meaning that the changes in the spike protein seem to have originated a variant that infects faster, has a more violent pathogenicity or makes antibodies less effective.

The Pfizer vaccine is likely effective against the Indian variant, at least to some extent, “because the key mutations in the spike protein are known mutations that appear in other variants, and we know that the vaccines are effective against them,” Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, told The Jerusalem Post Monday. “So we cannot be certain, but I think that it is quite likely that the vaccines will work on the Indian variant.” The first studies available about the Brazilian variant seem to indicate that the Pfizer vaccine is effective against it. As of Monday, Israelis are not allowed to visit India, South Africa, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico, except for very limited circumstances and provided that they obtain the authorization of a special governmental committee. In addition, all those who have visited these nations within the previous 14 days will be required to enter quarantine even if they are vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus. The rules do not apply to layovers of 12 hours or less, provided that the travelers remained in the airport. The list of countries considered to have a high risk of infection is to be updated every two weeks. Israel currently has fewer than 1,300 active cases of coronavirus. At the peak of the pandemic, there were tens of thousands. Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.
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Coronavirus: Two cases of Brazilian variant found in Israel for 1st time – The Jerusalem Post

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