The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a conference few days ago to address the extraordinary increase in South Africa’s Covid-19 cases. This increase is being attributed to a new form of the virus that has emerged.
South Africa’s health minister, Joe Phaahla, classified the new variety as B.1.1.529 and stated it appears to be highly infectious among young people. BBC reported the new type appears to be the most extensively altered strain discovered so far in the pandemic.
Surprising and Devastating
According to James Gallagher, the medical reporter, one expert described the mutation as “horrific.” He predicted the World Health Organization’s conference would acquire a Greek code name, similarly to the delta variant.
In an interview with the news organization, South Africa’s head of epidemic diseases and control, Tulio de Oliveira, said this variant took them by surprise. He noted that the organization did not expect this Covid variant.
Oliveira also said this particular strain has a significant evolutionary leap, as well as many more variants than they anticipated.
Good thread on worrying variant in South Africa. https://t.co/PEFPY2q2jT
— Norman Swan (@normanswan) November 25, 2021
According to Nature magazine, the variant was discovered for the first time in Botswana previously this month. Per the story, scientists are attempting to ascertain whether the variant is capable of evading the immunological response.
In addition, one researcher in Johannesburg said, “we’re traveling at warp speed.”
Efficiency of Vaccines Called into Question
Aris Katzourakis, a specialist in viral evolution at the University of Oxford, stated a pressing concern is whether the reality of so many COVID virus alterations reduces the efficiency of vaccines.
According to the British government, flights from South Africa and five other southern African nations will be prohibited at noon (1200GMT) on Monday. Additionally, everyone who has just arrived from those countries will be required to take a coronavirus test.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary of the United Kingdom, expressed worry the new variant “may be more transmittable” than the prevailing delta strain. He also said “the vaccinations we now have may be less successful” in protecting against it.
In an interview with Reuters, Grant Shapps, the British transportation secretary, described the measure as “important.” Shapps also called it “drastically distinct” from the virus against which the vaccines were created.
According to him, the spike protein was found in the virus.
A new #COVID19 variant has been discovered in South Africa. The super-variant is said to have an extremely high number of mutations. The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong. Experts in South Africa say they don't know if vaccines work against the variant. #eNCA pic.twitter.com/4m31LdWdEo
— eNCA (@eNCA) November 25, 2021
According to the Israeli Health Ministry, several novel coronavirus variants have been discovered in Israel, including one brought back from Malawi by a traveler.
The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, stated the country is on the verge of establishing a state of emergency because of the new strain.
In the end, it will be interesting to see how America and the world at large respond to this new strain of COVID-19. Will President Biden impose stricter measures on Americans? We’ll have to wait and see.