South African scientists detect new variant of COVID-19



South African scientists say they have detected a new variant of COVID-19 in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications.

The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are of concern because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters. at a press conference Thursday.

Early signs from diagnostic labs suggest the variant has grown rapidly in the most populous province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country’s other eight provinces, they said.

South Africa confirmed around 100 specimens as B.1.1.529, but the variant was also found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with Hong Kong’s case being a traveler from South Africa.

Scientists say up to 90% of new cases in Gauteng could be due to B.1.1.529.

See also  The wine trade "explodes" in 2021

“Although the data is limited, our experts are working overtime with all established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications might be,” the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases said in a statement. .

South Africa on Friday requested an urgent meeting of a World Health Organization (WHO) virus evolution working group to discuss the new variant.

See also  Theo's virtual chocolate tasting is a sweet consequence of Covid-19

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said it was too early to say whether the government would impose more stringent restrictions in response to the variant.

South Africa was the first country to detect the beta variant last year.

See also  The Ferguson Report: Australia's Most Popular Politician No One Has Heard Of

Beta is one of only four labeled “of concern” by the WHO because it has been shown to be more contagious and vaccines work less well against it.

The country detected another variant, C.1.2, earlier this year, but it has not displaced the more common Delta variant and still only accounts for a small percentage of the genomes sequenced in recent months.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here