Quebec Standard

Thursday, December 9, 2021

A novel COVID-19 variant has been discovered by South African scientists showing a sign of concern for all

Scientists in South Africa have discovered a new COVID-19 variant in limited numbers and are seeking to study its consequences, according to a statement released on Thursday.

The variety, known as B.1.1.529, has a “quite uncommon constellation” of mutations, which experts say are alarming because they could enable it to dodge the body’s immune response and become more transmissible.

According to early indications from diagnostic laboratories, the variant has rapidly increased in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, and may already be prevalent in the country’s other eight provinces.

Around 100 specimens have been confirmed as B.1.1.529 in South Africa, but the variety has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case being a visitor from South Africa. According to scientists, B.1.1.529 could be responsible for up to 90% of new cases in Gauteng.

“Despite the little data, our specialists are working around the clock using all of the established surveillance systems to identify the novel variety and its potential ramifications,” the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa said in a statement.

South Africa has proposed an urgent meeting of a World Health Organization (WHO) working group on virus evolution on Friday to address the new variety.

At the moment it is early to say whether the government will enforce stricter regulations in reaction to the variation, according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla. Last year, South Africa was the first country to discover the Beta variant.

The WHO has designated beta to be one of the four viruses as “of concern” because it has left evidence of being more contagious and vaccinations are less effective against it.

Although a new variant, C.1.2, was discovered early this year, it has not yet displaced the more frequent Delta variant and only accounts for a small percentage of genomes analyzed in recent months.

Source: Global News

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