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New variant of Covid-19 in South Africa raises concerns: NPR


A vil containing a Pfizer vaccine to be administered is seen ahead of the launch of the VaxuMzansi National Vaccine Day campaign in South Africa on September 24, 2021.

Rajesh Jantilal / Getty Images


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Rajesh Jantilal / Getty Images

New variant of Covid-19 in South Africa raises concerns: NPR

A vil containing a Pfizer vaccine to be administered is seen ahead of the launch of the VaxuMzansi National Vaccine Day campaign in South Africa on September 24, 2021.

Rajesh Jantilal / Getty Images

Virologists are rushing to learn more about a variant of the Covid-19 virus that was first identified in Botswana, and which is rapidly outperforming other versions of the virus in the region of South Africa which includes Johannesburg.

The variant, currently referred to as B.1.1.529, is said to have twice as many mutations displayed by the Delta variant, which became the dominant variant in most parts of the world over the summer.

It’s not yet clear whether mutations make this variant more infectious or if it causes more severe disease, but researchers say the high number of mutations in “spike proteins” – at the center of an immune response. body – can make it more able to get past the body’s defenses.

Despite the spread of this variant, the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa is still well below the delta outbreak at the start of the year. But the numbers are starting to rise again.

While waiting to learn more about the variant, health authorities in the United Kingdom are taking the precaution of canceling flights from the six southern African countries, adding them to the country’s “red list” for travelers.

The World Health Organization called an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the variant. If it is determined to be of special interest or concern, it is likely to be called “Nu”, the next Greek letter in the current naming scheme.

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