Why is the new S African variant more dangerous and how the vaccine developed in Scotland ‘has the edge’ to stop it

SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in its two conformations
The Covid protein spike ‘breaking into’ a human cell: (Image created with Molecular Maya by Jonathan Khao, PhD, and Gaël McGill, PhD, Digizyme Inc.)

I’m not a virologist, an expert in how viruses work, or an epidemiologist, an expert in how human societies respond to them, but I can read a bit.

Why is the new S African variant likely to be more dangerous?

The rod-like spike proteins on the surface of SARS CoV-2 are the tip of the spear of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spikes bind to human cells via the ACE2 receptor and then dramatically change shape. They jack-knife, folding in on themselves to fuse their own membrane with the membrane of our cells. And that opens the door to coronavirus infection.


All of the current vaccines, other than the one developed in Scotland, ‘target’ the spike protein to trigger the immune system response, which can then destroy the virus.

The new S African variant has as many as 30 mutations to spike protein alone making it harder for the vaccine-induced immune response to recognise it until it is too late and infection has occurred.

Why is the Livingston Valneva vaccine likely to succeed even when the spike protein has mutated?

Rather than induce an immune response that targets just the spike protein of the coronavirus, the Valneva vaccine, also known as VLA2001, stimulates an immune response to the entire virus, and that might just give it an edge over its competitors.

It is different in that it uses the tried and tested method of taking the whole of the coronavirus and inactivating it so that it can no longer cause illness.


Corrections and clarifications welcomed, of course.

17 thoughts on “Why is the new S African variant more dangerous and how the vaccine developed in Scotland ‘has the edge’ to stop it

  1. However,HM Government have made it clear that the Valneva vaccine will not be getting their approval any time soon.
    Made in Scotland by a French company.
    Those would be the reasons.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. In matters of defence strategies a very clever one is
        ” Let the enemy enter, then by ensuring they can’t escape KILL THEM ”
        Valvena vaccine is akin to this strategy
        If you study The Great Wall of China
        That is exactly the main point of it
        If somehow you mange to breach it
        Their is no way of you getting back to whence you came ALIVE

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It appears that even the profit-driven Tories can be persuaded to adopt a more realistic health centred approach to fighting this new Covid variant – several African countries put on Red List to ( hopefully ) prevent the import of this new strain .
    However no other preventative measures ( masks , vaccine passports , social distancing ) are thought worthwhile in the English Empire .

    Liked by 5 people

  3. As stated previously, Sajid Javid’s bold statement that the Valneva vaccine would not get MHRA approval stinks to high heaven of deliberately attempting to distort the market and play HMG bully-boy.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Dear Proof,
    As someone whose research for their PhD was focussed on a virus albeit a bacteriophage but with some similarities to human viruses you did Ok son.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. About 30 yrs ago, Private Eye ran an article on the Russians using Phages against viruses. . . . Maybe they were thinking this could be useful against Aids?


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