South Africa sounds the alarm: a new type of virus is spreading

South Africa sounds the alarm: a new type of virus is spreading

A covid patient treated in Johannesburg early this year. Most infections in the Johannesburg area now appear to be caused by a new species, which can better evade antibodies and vaccines.AFP photo

The virus variant B.1.1.529, as the new variant is called, contains at least 32 mutations in the projections in which the virus infects cells. Most of the injuries around Johannesburg seem to be caused by the variable already. This may indicate that the variant is already present in “most provinces,” according to bioinformatician Tulio de Oliveira, in an expert update session.

Although it is still too early to determine the exact characteristics of the new variant, experts are very concerned. British professor Christina Bagel, for example, notes that the number of reported cases in South Africa has suddenly increased again. “It’s in the middle of summer.”


Meanwhile, virologist Tom Peacock, who scientifically described the new variant, urged the variant to be monitored “very urgently”, “because of the terrible bump profile.” Depending on his changes, Peacock takes the “gamble” that the variant is better off evading antibodies and vaccines “than anything else he’s been up to.”

As far as we know, the virus has not yet been detected in Europe. Scientists found the variable virologist four times in Botswana, and in one traveler he transmitted the virus from South Africa to Hong Kong.

And Tullio de Oliveira stresses that the bright spot is that the virus, with its modified bumps, is easy to detect with current diagnostic tests. “It will help us monitor the spread of this virus,” the professor says. An official designation in Greek rhetoric for the variant is expected tomorrow, at the meeting with the WHO expert group.

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