• Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

A new variant of Covid-19, with multiple mutations, detected in South Africa – Franceinfo

Byeditorial

Nov 26, 2021

“We can see that it has a potential for very rapid spread,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira said at a press conference.

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Potentially highly contagious and with multiple mutations, a new variant of Covid-19 has been detected in South Africa, scientists have announced, Thursday 25 November. The variant B.1.1.529 has a number “extremely high” mutations and “we can see that it has a potential for very rapid spread”, said virologist Tulio de Oliveira, at an online press conference chaired by the Ministry of Health.

His team at the Krisp research institute, backed by the University of Kwazulu-Natal, had already discovered the highly contagious Beta variant last year. The metamorphoses of the initial virus can potentially make it more transmissible, to the point of making the variant dominant: this was the case with the Delta variant initially discovered in India, and which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) reduced to 40% effectiveness of vaccines against disease transmission.

At this point, South African scientists are unsure of the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the new form of the virus. “What concerns us is that this variant could have an increased transmission capacity, but also be able to bypass parts of our immune system”said another researcher, Professor Richard Lessells.

To date, 22 cases have been reported, mostly affecting young people, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Cases have also been reported in neighboring Botswana and Hong Kong, on a person returning from a trip to South Africa. After South Africa’s announcement, the UK said it would ban entry to travelers from six African countries.

The WHO has declared “to follow closely” this new variant and must meet Friday to determine its dangerousness. “There are many variants but some have no effect on the progression of the epidemic”, tempered at a press conference John Nkengasong, from the African Union’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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