WHO discusses dangerous alternative to Corona virus in South Africa with ‘many mutations’

The World Health Organization It will meet on Friday to discuss what a worrying coronavirus variant with “large number of surges” for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments could mean as European countries begin banning flights from South Africa and surrounding countries.

The variant known as B.1.1.529 has been detected in small numbers in Johannesburg, South Africa, and neighboring countries, but the world has been burned by variants before, particularly Delta, and cannot afford a setback in the fight against the pandemic.

“We don’t know much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. The concern is that when the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Dr Maria van Kerkhove, said in a Q&A on social media, the concern is that when If you have a lot of mutations, it can have an effect on the behavior of the virus.

The variant has “many more mutations than we expected,” including more than 30 in the thorny protein the virus uses to penetrate, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in Africa, said at a press briefing on Thursday. in human cells.

It is “spreading very quickly and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks,” he said.

The World Health Organization will decide whether the mutations amount to a variable level of concern or concern and may assign it a Greek name.

Other countries said they would not take any chances in the meantime.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the European Commission “will propose, in close coordination with member states, the activation of emergency brakes to halt air travel from the southern African region due to the variable of concern B.1.1.529”.

Europe is battling another wave of the virus and protests over economic restrictions.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights from six African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Zimbabwe – will be temporarily banned from noon on Friday, and returning British travelers must quarantine.

The South African government criticized the decision on Friday.

The Minister for International Relations and Cooperation said: “It appears that the UK’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK has been rushed, as the World Health Organization has yet to advise on the next steps.”

Mr. Javid realized that not much was known about the alternative but said he could not risk anything.

“More data is needed, but we are taking precautions now,” he wrote on Twitter.

An aggressive variant known as ‘beta’ emerged in South Africa earlier in the epidemic and has spread worldwide. Then, the delta variant that was first detected in India swept across the world and led to a major setback in the United States’ war against the virus in late summer.

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