It seems to be spreading quickly in components of South Africa and scientists are involved that its unusually excessive variety of mutations might make it extra contagious and lead to immune evasion.
“Initially it looked like some cluster outbreak, but since yesterday, our scientists from the network of genomic surveillance indicated that they were seeing a new variant,” Health Minister Joe Fahla mentioned on Thursday. The variant first appeared.
South African officers initially mentioned there was a confirmed case in a traveler touring from South Africa to Hong Kong. Then Hong Kong well being authorities on Friday recognized a second case of kind B.188.8.131.529 amongst vacationers returning on the identical flooring of a delegated quarantine resort.
Also on Friday, the Belgian authorities mentioned an individual who had just lately arrived from overseas, and had not been vaccinated, had examined optimistic for the brand new variant, the primary case in Europe.
Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, mentioned the variant has “many more mutations than we expected,” including that it’s “spreading very rapidly and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few years.” Huh.” A few days and weeks.”
Viruses, together with people who trigger COVID-19, mutate commonly and most new mutations don’t considerably have an effect on the conduct of viruses and the illness they trigger.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will maintain a gathering on Friday to resolve whether or not model b.184.108.40.2069 must be thought of an “of interest” or “of concern” designation, indicating the quantity of world threat. public well being. The WHO mentioned it could share “further guidance for the government on the actions they can take.”
What do we all know in regards to the new model
Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School within the United Kingdom, mentioned the model was “very worrying”.
Young mentioned in a press release, “This is the most heavily mutated version of the virus ever observed. This variant has some changes that we have previously seen in other forms, but not all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations.” Huh.” ,
Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said in a statement that the number of mutations on the spike protein was “unprecedented”.
“spike protein gene [is] The protein that’s the goal of most vaccines. So there may be concern that this variant might have a larger capacity to evade prior immunity than the earlier variant,” Ferguson said.
Sharon Peacock, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said the total number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa is relatively small, but has increased rapidly over the past seven days.
She said that while 273 new infections were recorded on 16 November, the figure had risen to more than 1,200 by 25 November, with more than 80% coming from Gauteng province.
“The epidemiological image means that this variant could also be extra transmissible, and that most of the mutations correspond to enhanced transmissibility,” said Peacock in a commentary shared by the UK’s Science Media Centre.
He said the significance of the mutations and their combination is unknown, but some of the others present in the latest version have been associated with immune evasion.
what we don’t know
Peacock, de Oliveira, Ferguson and other scientists said it was too early to tell about the full impact of the mutation on vaccine efficacy.
De Oliveira stressed that shots are still the best tool against the virus, adding that laboratory studies still need to be done to test the vaccine and antibody evasion.
More studies need to be done to understand the clinical severity of the variant as compared to previous variants.
It is also unclear where the new mutation arose. While it was first identified in South Africa, it may have originated elsewhere.
“It is essential to not assume that the variant first emerged in South Africa,” said Mayur.
Scientists have praised South African health officials for their quick response to a Covid-19 outbreak in the country’s Gauteng province, which led to the discovery of the new variant.
When cases in the province began to rise at a higher rate than elsewhere, health experts focused on sequencing samples from those who tested positive, allowing them to quickly identify the B.220.127.116.119 variant.
Peacock said the South African health ministry and its scientists “must be recommended for his or her response, their science, and in sounding the alarm for the world.”
He said the development shows how important it is to have excellent sequencing capabilities and share expertise with others.
UK officers introduced on Thursday that six African international locations could be added to England’s journey “pink checklist”, after the UK’s Health Protection Agency expressed concerns over the version.
UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights to the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from Friday afternoon and all six countries will be added to the red list – meaning UK residents And British and Irish nationals will have to undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense upon arrival home from those points of departure.
Speaking on Friday, Javid said it is “extremely possible” that the b.18.104.22.1689 variant has spread beyond southern Africa. In a statement to the UK House of Commons on Friday, Javid expressed concern that it “might pose a considerable threat to public well being.”
Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Austria, France, the Netherlands and Germany have also announced new restrictions on travelers coming from the region, and the European Commission has banned flights from South Africa to the block. proposed to be installed.
Emirates Airline said on Friday that it would restrict flights to Dubai from the region, citing Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Center (CCC).
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Friday that the United States will decide as soon as possible to stop travel from some African countries in light of the new version.
CNN’s Duarte Mendonca, Niamh Kennedy and Mia Alberti in London, Andrew Carey and Amir Tal in Jerusalem, Antonia Mortensen in Milan, Tim Lister in Cordoba and Nadine Schmidt in Berlin contributed reporting.