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Evolutionary biologist Aivelo: Coronavirus’s ability to vary has surprised scientists en masse – nothing similar is known about previous epidemics – Finland

“Some kind of immunity to that too is obtained with current vaccines,” estimates the professor of virology.

The South African variant of the coronavirus raises many questions and concerns in Finland as well. The variant differs from the original form of the coronavirus and the British variant in that the immune protection afforded by the previous illness or vaccine is less effective.

In the video above, THL’s latest situation report on the coronavirus situation in Finland.

– This dreaded mutation – e484k – is in the South African and Brazilian variants of the coronavirus. It is not known exactly how many of those vaccinated could become infected with the South African variant, University of Helsinki Evolutionary Biologist Tuomas Aivelo says.

According to Aivelo, the suspicion that it would spread more easily than the British variant has also been considered a worrying feature of the South African variant. In Finland, the possible spillover of the South African variant depends on the propagation efficiency and security measures.

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– If it spreads less than the British version, it will not become more common.

Tuomas Aivelo works as an evolutionary biologist at the University of Helsinki.­

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If Finland keeps the restrictions at a level that keeps the number of British variant infections the same or decreases, the restrictions will hit the South African variant more easily, Aivelo points out.

Aivelo says directly that the variability of the coronavirus has surprised researchers massively. According to him, nothing similar is known about previous epidemics, but evolution has taken place only to a small extent.

– It was truly surprising that there was a mutation that changed so much the functionality of the virus. It was assumed that the change would be slower and gradual, not like that – 50 percent!

Some chains of infection have been identified in Finland

Professor of Virology at the University of Turku Ilkka Julkusen according to the South African coronavirus variant has been found to cause some clusters in Finland.

– It has had some chains that have been more or less suppressed by infection traces.

Julkunen says that in the light of recent studies, after two doses of Pfizer and Biontech vaccines, more than 90 percent of health care workers were found to have antibodies that would also neutralize the South African variant. According to Julkusen, it can therefore be assumed that some kind of immunity to it would be obtained with current vaccines.

The modifications do not affect the vaccination schedule

Professor Julkunen says that the modifications will not affect Finland’s vaccination program.

– It is carried out with the vaccines that are available. And the effectiveness of authorized vaccines against a serious form of the disease is more than 90 percent if you have received two doses.

Ilkka Julkunen, Professor of Virology at the University of Turku.­

It is not known, according to Julkunen, how much the viruses need to change in order for the vaccine’s effectiveness to be significantly reduced.

– It will be seen in the coming months.

Information on vaccinated Finnish and infected infectious diseases is collected in a register maintained by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, and this information can be combined.

– If vaccine recipients start to get sick a lot, you can consider what needs to be done. Vaccine manufacturers around the world have begun to modify vaccines to use the genes of significantly modified viruses. In this case, vaccination would be effective against virus variants.

He points out that vaccines cannot be developed for all diseases. In this sense, there has been luck on the journey for the coronavirus.

– If vaccination programs are realized and social preventive measures work well, so I am optimistic that a pandemic is under control, and I hope that after the summer can gradually move to a little more normal life.

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