A new ‘possibly’ serious COVID variant has been spotted
- South Africa spots a new COVID variant with many mutations to the spike protein.
- The new variant that WHO is calling B.1.1.529 "could be" more contagious and resistant.
- WHO is meeting on Friday to discuss what the new variant means for existing COVID treatments.
Many had expected “Delta” to be the last “super variant” of the Coronavirus, but the World Health Organisation on Thursday confirmed a new variant in South Africa with a great many mutations to the spike protein.
WHO scheduled for a special meeting on Friday
The international public health agency has called a special meeting on Friday to discuss what the new variant it’s calling B.1.1.529 could mean for the existing COVID-19 treatments. According to WHO’s technical lead on COVID, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove:
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“We don’t know very much about this year. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.”
The older variants of the Coronavirus are already ravaging Europe again, prompting the United States to add many EU countries, including Denmark and Germany, to its “do not travel” list.
The new variant might be more contagious and resistant
According to Tulio de Oliveira (South African scientist), over 30 mutations have been detected to the spike protein. Many of these “possibly” make the new variant more contagious, while several others add to its resistance against the antibodies, “possibly” making vaccines less effective against B.1.1.529.
Reports of the same variant also came from Hong Kong and Botswana. Upon evaluation, if the World Health Organisation sees the new variant as the one of interest or concern, it will assign a Greek name to B.1.1.529.
The news comes only days after the former FDA commissioner, Dr Scott Gottlieb, said the U.S. was late in administering the booster shots.