COVID-19: ‘We can roughly predict how this will move’ – South Africa grapples with a new variable | world News

South Africa is racing to learn more about a new type of coronavirus that could be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines.

Only 53 cases linked to the B.1.1.529 strain have been confirmed in the country so far, but there are fears that the true number could be much higher.

COVID-19 It is spreading rapidly among young people in Gauteng – the most populous province in South Africa.

Nationwide, there has been a “more exponential rise” in infections over the past five days or so.

Until recently, South Africa had a relatively low transmission period, typically recording around 200 confirmed cases per day.

But the daily number of Corona Virus Infections rose quickly above 1,200 on Wednesday alone — and nearly doubled again to 2,465 on Thursday.

Experts believe there is a “high probability” that many of these cases are related to this variant.

In Gauteng, it is estimated that 90% of the new infections could be B.1.1.529 – the strain may be present in the other eight provinces of South Africa.

Scientists in the country are now trying to determine how widespread it is, but this may take some time.

South Africa’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said: “Despite the limited data, our experts are working overtime with all surveillance systems in place to understand the new variant and what potential effects it could have.”

At a press conference in Johannesburg, Health Minister Joseph Pahla warned: “From the experience of the past 21 months or so, we can almost predict how this will move.

“Like I said, especially when, like Delta that started in Gauteng, you can rest assured as people start moving more over the next few weeks, it’s all going to come to an end.”

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the South African Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, says the new variant contains a “constellation” of new mutations.

A team of scientists from seven universities is now studying B.1.1.529, and they have 100 complete genomes of it to date.

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“Our scientists are very worried” – Javed

British officials are keen to get live virus cultures of the new type so they can be tested, but this could take up to four to six weeks.

Only 41% of adults in South Africa have been vaccinated – the number of vaccinations administered daily is relatively low at less than 130,000.

This is well below the government’s target of 300,000 per day.

But this is not due to a shortage – the state is in fact forced to delay delivery so as not to “stock up and stockpile vaccines”.

“We are getting vaccines faster than we can use at the moment,” said Nicholas Crisp, acting director general of the National Health Service.

South Africa has a population of 60 million. During the pandemic, more than 2.9 million cases of COVID-19 and 89,000 deaths have been recorded.

The health minister said it was too early at the moment to say whether the government would impose tighter restrictions in response to the alternative.

UK experts have described B.1.1.529 as “the worst we’ve seen so far” – and South Africa is among six African countries now added to the Travel Red List.

WHO experts meet on Friday to assess the variable, which on Wednesday was designated as a variable under control.

If it was promoted to a variant of concern, it could be given a name from the Greek alphabet – possibly referred to as Nu.

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