What to know about the new variant B.1.1.529 COVID-19

The World Health Organization has scheduled a special meeting on Friday to discuss a worrying new type of coronavirus that has been discovered in South Africa and appears to be mutating rapidly.

Scientists have warned that the so-called B.1.1.529 variant contains a large number of mutations – about 30 – in the spike protein, which could affect how easily it spreads to people.

“We don’t know much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. Dr Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, said: According to CNBC.

This is what we know about B.1.1.529 so far.

Where was B.1.1.529 disclosed?

It’s unclear where the new variant actually originated from, but it was first discovered by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.

On Friday, Israel – one of the world’s most vaccinated countries – announced that it had also detected the country’s first case of B.1.1.529 in a traveler who had returned from Malawi.

The World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting to discuss a new type of coronavirus that has been discovered in South Africa and appears to be mutating.
The World Health Organization has scheduled a meeting to discuss a new type of coronavirus that has been discovered in South Africa and appears to be mutating.
AP

We are now about to declare a state of emergency. “Our basic principle is to move fast, strong, and now,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement issued by his office.

The traveler and two suspected cases have been placed in isolation. Israeli officials said all three have been vaccinated, but are currently studying their exact vaccination status.

Is B.1.1.529 more contagious?

Much about the breed is still unknown, however, and its scientists say its large number of mutations may mean it is more transmissible.

Sharon Peacock, who led the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 in Britain at the University of Cambridge, told The Associated Press that the data so far suggested the virus’ mutations were “in line with improved transmissibility,” but said that “the significance of many of the mutations remains unknown.” “.

She said it would take several weeks to run the lab tests needed to determine the answers.

B.1.1.529 contains a spike protein that is completely different from the protein found in the original insect on which the vaccines are based.
B.1.1.529 contains a spike protein that is completely different from the protein found in the original insect on which the vaccines are based.
AP

Francois Balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London, said the rise in COVID-19 cases in South Africa – particularly in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province – was worrying.

“The biggest risk is that (this alternative) is better at re-infecting people as well as being more transmissible and virulent,” he said in a statement.

Can B.1.1.529 evade vaccines?

B.1.1.529 contains a spike protein that is drastically different from the protein found in the original insect on which vaccines are based, according to the UK’s Health Security Agency, which raises some concern about how current punches will perform against it.

The South African Ministry of Health also said during a briefing on Thursday that the variant contains several mutations linked to increased antibody resistance, which could reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines.

Scientists are studying the role of vaccines in stopping the spread of B.1.1.529, said Benny Moore, a virologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“We fly at warp speed,” Moore For Nature.

However, it is important to note that less than 100 complete genome sequences are available so far, according to the World Health Organization.

It's unclear where the new variant actually originated from, but it was first discovered by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.
It’s unclear where the new variant actually originated from, but it was first discovered by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.
AP

“It will take a few weeks for us to understand the impact of this alternative on any potential vaccines,” Van Kerkhove said.

WHO experts meet on Friday to discuss the risks the variable poses and whether it should be identified as one of concern or variables of concern.

“Right now, researchers are coming together to understand where these spikes protein mutations are located and the furin cleavage site, and what that might mean for our diagnoses or treatments and vaccines,” Van Kerkhove said, adding that the agency could determine that it’s the Greek name NO.

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