- New Corona variant B.1.1.529 discovered in South Africa
- Variant has “very high number of mutations”
- Scientists are concerned
- The new variant will probably have a new letter – is the epsilon variant coming?
At a press conference in South Africa, scientists announced that they had identified a new corona variant that could be responsible for the exponential increase in corona infections in the African country. In addition to South Africa, the variant has also been discovered in Botswana and Hong Kong among travelers from South Africa. South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla was very concerned. As reported by tagesschau.de, the variant that still operates under B.1.1.529 could get a Greek letter on Friday and become the next dominant variant after the highly contagious Delta variant that is still current with us.
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The head of the genome research institute KRISP, Tulio de Oliveira, said the new variant was “cause for concern”. The effectiveness of the existing vaccines against this virus variant is still unclear. The infections in South Africa have risen extremely in the past few days. The country is the hardest-hit country in Africa by the corona pandemic, with almost 90,000 dead. The number of new infections has increased more than tenfold since the beginning of November. The share of B.1.1.529 is now 75 percent, so Oliveira and will soon be 100 percent.
Richard Lessells from the KRISP Institute expressed concern that variant B.1.1.529 could have a greatly increased transferability and that this variant could also bypass parts of the immune system and thus the immune protection is less effective against a severe course. The number of mutations in the new variant is also worrying. The beta variant, which was discovered in South Africa last year, has three mutations, the delta variant only two. The B.1.1.529 variant has at least ten mutations.
In tweets on Thursday, Tulio Oliveira called on the world and especially the billionaires of this world to help South Africa and to give the whole continent a financial and logistical support. By protecting the poor, you protect the whole world, Oliveira said on Twitter. Since the new variant was also discovered by a traveler from South Africa in Hong Kong, there is concern that this variant could spread across the world at lightning speed. The first case was discovered on November 11th in Botswana, three days later in South Africa, where, after an already disastrous delta variant wave, there are concerns about another wave that will follow immediately.
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