Scientists and health authorities in South Africa confirmed this Thursday the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus, identified as B.1.1.529, which has multiple mutations and which aroused “concern” among specialists, although its impact has yet to be studied.
“Unfortunately, we have detected a new variant that is a cause for concern in South Africa,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira told a news conference.
The new variant presents “a very unusual constellation of mutations”, but its “meaning is still uncertain,” explained the specialist, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Sequencing Innovation Platform (KRISP, a scientific institution in eastern South Africa. )
In total, so far, cases of this variant have been confirmed in South Africa, Hong Kong (in a traveler from the African nation) and neighboring Botswana, according to data provided by the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
B.1.1.529 has more than thirty mutations and some of them are, according to South African scientists, a cause for concern due to its possible impact on transmissibility and its potential ability to evade immunity or previous protection.
“The variant surprised us, it has a great evolutionary leap, many more variants than we expected, especially after a very severe third wave of delta (variant),” Oliveira pointed out.
“We could potentially see this variant expand very quickly,” lamented this specialist, based on data collected in the South African province of Gauteng (where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located), where in recent days the number of cases of covid- 19 increased significantly.
The South African specialists emphasized, however, that the detection of this new variant has been carried out “very, very early” and were optimistic that this favors the control of its expansion. (Infobae)