South African variant, Crisanti: “If he’s already here, zero tolerance will be needed”

The virologist: “If he resists crucial vaccines, update them immediately, using red zones to buy time. Blocking flights? He has never stopped anyone”

“To see if in Italy the new South African variant has already manifested itself, I think the most important thing to do now is a thorough sampling. And if it has manifested itself, it must be confined with zero tolerance. With what measures? It depends on the seriousness of the situation, because if this variant is resistant to the vaccine, it is not a joke. “To explain this to Adnkronos Health is the virologist Andrea Crisanti. The director of the Department of Molecular Medicine of the University of Padua premieres: “We are in a phase of observation and the panic is premature. First the data”.

“If this variant is resistant to the vaccine – he speculates – and if it is identified in some area of ​​the country it is necessary to seal everything up, make a kind of red zone, and confine it. It is not that there are alternatives. But then this thing in the end has only one palliative effect, because sooner or later the variant arrives. And the most important thing is always to develop a vaccine that is able to intercept it “, to stem it. “It may therefore be necessary to re-update our current vaccines. And definitely do a lockdown where this variant occurs it has only one effect: that of buying time, while waiting for vaccines “.

Blocking of flights? “Let’s stop them, but I don’t think this has ever stopped anyone, I say it sincerely. And among other things we don’t even know if this variant is already among us”.

Variants of Sars-CoV-2, observes Crisanti, “are continuously detected and certainly every now and then some variants emerge because they have higher transmissibility characteristics than others. In South Africa the situation is complicated by the fact that there is indeed an important number of vaccinated people and therefore we do not know if this variant has emerged because it is more transmissible than the Delta, or because it is able to infect also vaccinated people. It is a variant that has a lot of mutations and certainly this is a major concern “.

Obviously, concludes the virologist, “we are talking only about hypotheses at the moment. We must first try to understand if this variant is susceptible to vaccines or not, if it is resistant or not. We are a phase of observation and if it will be confirmed that it resists vaccines. companies must immediately update their composition and countries must implement measures that mitigate the impact of the variant for 4-5 months, the time to update and distribute the new “shield products.” “But containment measures will need to be put in place in the case of high virulence and a variant capable of overcoming vaccines.”