South Africa detects a new variant of the Covid-19 with multiple mutations

A new variant of Covid-19, potentially more contagious and with multiple mutations, has been detected in South Africa, which can face a new pandemic wave, scien

South Africa detects a new variant of the Covid-19 with multiple mutations

A new variant of Covid-19, potentially more contagious and with multiple mutations, has been detected in South Africa, which can face a new pandemic wave, scientists reported this Thursday.

In fact, the number of daily infections in this country, the most punished of the continent by the pandemic, has multiplied by ten from the beginning of the month.

Variant B.1.1.529 has an "extremely high" number of mutations and "we can see that it has a very high propagation potential," the Virologist Tulio de Oliveira declared during an online press conference of the Ministry of Health.

His team from the KRISP Research Institute, which belongs to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, discovered the beta variant, very contagious too.

Three the announcement, the British Government announced that it forbade travel with South Africa and five neighboring countries (Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana) before the fears that the variant is even more contagious than the delta.

The mutations of the initial virus can make it more contagious until it becomes dominant. It was the case with the Delta variant, initially discovered in India and that, according to WHO, it reduced the effectiveness of vaccines against the transmission of the disease.

For now, South African scientists do not know if existing vaccines are effective against this new virus form.

"What worries us is that this variant could not only have a greater transmission capacity, but could also be able to evade parts of our immune system," said Professor Richard Lessells, another researcher.

Up to now, 22 cases were detected, mainly of young people, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD, for its acronym in English). There were also cases in neighboring Botswana and Hong Kong, in a person who returned from a trip to South Africa.

WHO should meet this Friday to determine the dangerousness of the variant.

"There are many variants, but some do not influence the progression of the epidemic," he killed during a press conference John Nkengasong, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the African Union (Africa CDC).

But for now, "the number of cases detected and the percentage of positive test increases rapidly," especially in Gauteng, the most populous province that includes Pretoria and Johannesburg, confirmed the NiCD in a statement.

According to scientists, health structures have to foresee the arrival of a new wave of sick in the coming days or weeks.

South Africa, which is officially the country most affected by the virus on the continent, recorded an increase in contagions these last weeks. This rise, which was first attributed to the delta variant, is the fault of the new variant. It represents a "greater threat," the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla declared.

This new variant of the Covid-19 "reinforces the fact that this invisible enemy we are facing is very unpredictable," he added.

South Africa accumulates 2.9 million contagions and 89,600 dead. On Wednesday, 1,200 contagions were recorded in just 24 hours, against a hundred at the beginning of the month.

The authorities fear a new pandemic wave before the end of the year. Only 35% of adults who meet the necessary requirements are totally vaccinated.

In the world, Europe is currently the new epicenter of the pandemic. In Austria, a new confinement came into force on Monday, while France announced a hardening of sanitary measures. Germany exceeded 100,000 dead by Covid-19 on Thursday from the beginning of the pandemic.

The Coronavirus has left more than 5.16 million deaths around the world since its appearance in China at the end of 2019.

WHO estimates that if it takes into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly related to the COVID-19, the number of victims of the pandemic could be two to three times higher.

Updated Date: 26 November 2021, 00:01

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