The new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa worries scientists

Johannesburg — A new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in the United States South Africa Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced on Thursday that scientists said this is a worrying issue because of its large number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in the country’s most populous province of Gauteng.

Coronaviruses evolve as they spread, and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, usually disappear. Scientists monitor possible changes that may be more contagious or lethal, but it may take time to determine whether the new variant will have an impact on public health.

South Africa Phaahla said in an online press conference that the number of new infections has increased dramatically.

“In the past four or five days, there has been an exponential increase,” he said, adding that new variants seem to be driving a surge in cases.Scientist at South Africa Efforts are being made to determine the percentage of new cases caused by new variants.

Currently identified as B.1.1.529, this new variant has also been found in travelers from Botswana and Hong Kong. South Africa, He said.

The World Health Organization’s technical working group will meet on Friday to evaluate the new variant and may decide whether to give it a Greek letter name.

The British government announced a ban from South Africa And five other southern African countries take effect at noon on Friday (1200 GMT), and anyone who has recently arrived from these countries will be required to be tested for the coronavirus.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid said there are concerns that this new variant “may be more contagious than the main delta strain” and that “the vaccine we currently have may be ineffective against it.”

Tulio de Oliveira from the US Genome Surveillance Network said that this new variant has a series of new mutations. South Africa, Who tracked the spread of delta variants in the country.

“A lot of mutations are a problem in predicting immune evasion and spread,” De Oliveira said.

He said: “This new variant has many, many mutations,” including more than 30 spike proteins that affect transmission. “We can see that this variant may spread very quickly. We do hope to start seeing pressure on the healthcare system in the next few days and weeks.”

De Oliveira said a team of scientists from seven universities in South Africa is studying this variant. He said that they have 100 of its entire genome and expect to have more in the next few days.

“We are concerned about the evolutionary jump of this variant,” he said. He said that the good news is that it can be detected by a PCR test.

After a relatively low transmission period South Africa The number of new confirmed cases per day is only more than 200. In the past week, the number of new cases per day has rapidly increased to more than 1,200 on Wednesday. On Thursday, they jumped to 2,465.

Health Minister Phaahla said that the first surge occurred in Pretoria and the surrounding Tshwane metropolitan area, and it appeared to be a cluster of university student gatherings in the area. As the number of cases increased, scientists studied genome sequencing and discovered new mutations.

“This is obviously a variation that we must take very seriously,” said Lavendela Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge. “It has a large number of spike mutations, which may affect infectivity and immune response.”

Gupta said that scientists are South Africa It will take time to determine whether the surge in new cases is attributable to the new variants. “It is very likely that this is the case,” he said. “South African scientists have done an excellent job of quickly determining this and bringing it to the attention of the world.”

Phaahla said South African officials have warned that a new recovery is expected from mid-December to early January and hopes to prepare for this by getting more people vaccinated.

About 41% South AfricaOf adults have been vaccinated, and the number of vaccines injected daily is relatively small, less than 130,000 times, which is far below the government’s target of 300,000 times a day.

South Africa Nicholas Crisp, acting director-general of the National Health Department, said that Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson currently have about 16.5 million doses of vaccine in the country, and about 2.5 million doses of vaccine are expected to be delivered next week. .

Crisp said: “We are getting vaccines faster than we are currently using them.” “So for some time, we have been postponing deliveries instead of reducing orders, but just postponing deliveries so as not to accumulate and store vaccines.”

South AfricaWith a population of 60 million, more than 2.9 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded, including more than 89,000 deaths.

To date, the delta variant is still the most contagious, and has already squeezed out other once worrying variants, including alpha, beta, and mu. According to the sequence submitted to the world’s largest public database by countries in the world, more than 99% are deltas.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

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