WHO meets to discuss new ‘highly mutated’ COVID-19 variant
Joe Vahla, South Africa’s health minister, identified the new variant as B.1.1.529, and said it appeared to be highly contagious among young people.
BBC mentioned That the new variant appears to be the most significantly mutated to date in the outbreak. Health reporter James Gallagher writes that one scientist described the alternative as “appalling.” He said the WHO meeting would likely result in the variable getting a Greek symbolic name, such as the delta variable.
“We were surprised by this alternative,” Tulio de Oliveira, director of the South African Epidemiological Response and Innovation Center, told the news outlet. “She has a huge leap in development [and] More mutations that we expected.”
Nature Magazine mentioned That variant was first reported in Botswana earlier this month. The report said scientists are trying to determine whether the variant can somehow evade the immune response. “We’re flying really fast,” said one researcher in Johannesburg.
“The urgent question is whether it reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine because it has so many changes,” said Aris Katzorkis, an expert in virus evolution at the University of Oxford.
The British government announced that it has banned flights from South Africa and five other countries in South Africa from Friday noon (1200 GMT), and that anyone who has recently arrived from those countries will be required to take a coronavirus test.
British Health Minister Sajid Javid said there were concerns that the new variant “may be more transmissible” than the prevailing Delta strain, and that “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective” against it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report