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S.Africa detects new COVID-19 variant, implications not yet clear

WorldNov 25, 2021 09:01PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of displayed South Africa flag in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo 2/2

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications, they said on Thursday.

The variant - called B.1.1.529 - has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference.

Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has rapidly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country's other eight provinces, they said.

In a regular daily update on confirmed cases countrywide, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) later reported 2,465 new COVID-19 infections, slightly less than double the previous day's infections. The NICD did not attribute the latest resurgence to the new variant, although some leading local scientists suspect it is the cause.

South Africa has confirmed around 100 specimens as B.1.1.529, but the variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case a traveller from South Africa. As many as 90% of new cases in Gauteng could be B.1.1.529, scientists believe.

"Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be," the NICD said in a statement.

South Africa has requested an urgent sitting of a World Health Organization (WHO) working group on virus evolution on Friday to discuss the new variant.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said it was too early to say whether the government would impose tougher restrictions in response to the variant.

South Africa was the first country to detect the Beta variant last year.

Beta is one of only four labelled "of concern" by the WHO because there is evidence that it is more contagious and vaccines work less well against it.

The country detected another variant, C.1.2, earlier this year, but that has not displaced the more common Delta variant and still accounts for only a small percentage of genomes sequenced in recent months.

S.Africa detects new COVID-19 variant, implications not yet clear
 

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gavin carr
gavin carr Nov 25, 2021 9:45PM ET
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not a surprise that this vaccine resistant variant came out of one of the more vaccinated parts of Africa (the middle of Africa is nearly 0% vaccinated, but this came from one of the more vaccinated parts in South Africa, which is also seeing higher case counts) and the countries/states that are most vaccinated in the world are seeing large spikes in cases. fauci/nih literally funded the lab that created the virus and people are blindly injecting themselves every few months with a product he is pushing from companies that have been given complete legal immunity while covering up vaccine related adverse events and higher death rates from all-causes now observed among vaccinated people observed throughout the world.
 
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