South African scientists on Thursday said that they have detected a new COVID-19 variant which has multiple mutations. The same was announced after a recent rise in COVID-19 infections in the region.
As per reports, virologist Tulio De Oliveira spoke about the virus variant in a press conference. He said, “Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa.” The COVID-19 cases of the variant have been reported from Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong. It is called the B.1.1529, or so-called Botswana variant, is an offshoot of another variant called B.1.1., the Independent newspaper said. Cameroonian virologist John Nkengasong was also asked about the variant but declined to comment on it, according to reports. He did not even comment whether the Botswana variant was the one officials plan to discuss.
South African COVID Variant:
Data on the new variant is currently being analysed and more information will be released after the meeting, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.
Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, reportedly said it likely emerged in a lingering infection in an immunocompromised patient, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS.
Balloux said, “It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage.For the time being, it should be closely monitored and analysed, but there is no reason to get overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future.”
According to reports, South Africa has detected 22 cases of the variant, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement.
“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” NICD Acting Executive Director Adrian Puren said in the statement. “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date.”