Could B.1.1.529 be more contagious than the Delta variant?

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Nov 26, 2021
  • Dr Schaffner finds it hard to think of another variant that's more transmissible than delta.
  • There's no risk of a more severe disease from B.1.1.529, he added in his interview with CNBC.
  • Airlines, cruise lines, and hotel stocks are taking a hit on Friday; technology is in the green.

Financial markets are in the red this morning on fears of a new COVID variant with a “large number of mutations” to the spike protein, which could “possibly” make it more contagious than the Delta.

Dr Schaffner’s remarks on CNBC’s ‘Street Signs Asia’

The research-backed evidence is yet to come, but Vanderbilt University’s Dr William Schaffner says it’s unlikely that B.1.1.529 will be more transmissible than the previous variants of the Coronavirus. On CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia”, he said:

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The Delta variant is already extraordinarily transmissible; it’s really difficult to think of another virus that’s more transmissible. There is only one that we know, that’s measles virus – the most contagious virus we know.

The World Health Organisation is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the new variant first spotted in South Africa and its implication for the existing COVID treatments.

Airlines, cruise lines, and hotel stocks in particular are taking a hit on Friday. Technology, on the contrary, is in the green.

Little is known ‘for sure’ about the new variant so far

Nonetheless, Dr Schaffner agreed on the need to undertake “on ground” epidemiological studies to confirm his hypothesis.

Another factor that could turn it from a variant of “interest” to a variant of “concern”, he added, is its resistance against the existing vaccines, which will be revealed over time after lab studies.

According to the Vanderbilt University expert, disease severity is usually the third “concerning” factor after transmissibility and resistance. He, however, reiterated that there was no risk of a more severe disease from B.1.1.529 so far.  

Also on Friday, updated study revealed Merck’s oral antiviral for COVID-19 to be only 30% effective in reducing hospitalization and deaths.

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