Coronaviruses evolve as they spread, and many new variants, including worrying mutations, often only die. Scientists monitor changes that can be more contagious or fatal, but it can take time to classify whether a new variant impacts public health.
In South Africa, new infections are on the rise dramatically, Fara said in an online press conference.
“We’ve seen an exponential rise over the last four to five days,” he added, adding that new variants appear to be driving a surge in cases. South African scientists are working to determine what percentage of new cases are caused by new variants.
He said the new variant, now identified as B.1.1.529, has also been found in South African travelers Botswana and Hong Kong.
The WHO Technical Working Group may meet on Friday to evaluate new variants and decide whether to name them from Greek letters.
Tuliode Oliveira, a South African genome monitoring network, said the new variant has a new mutation “constellation” that tracks the domestic spread of the delta variant.
“The high number of mutations is a predictable antigenic escape and transmissible concern,” said de Oliveira.
“This new variant has far more mutations, including more than 30 to spike proteins that affect transmissibility,” he said. “We see that this variant can be expanding very rapidly. We expect to put pressure on the healthcare system in the coming days and weeks.”
Deolibeira said a team of scientists from seven South African universities are studying this variant. He said they have 100 whole genomes of it and expect to have more genomes in the next few days.
“We are concerned about the evolutionary leap of this variant,” he said. One of the good news is that it can be detected by PCR tests.
After a relatively low infection period, when South Africa recorded just over 200 new confirmed cases per day, the number of new daily cases increased rapidly to over 1,200 last Wednesday. On Thursday they jumped to 2,465.
The first surge occurred in Pretoria and the surrounding Tsuwane metropolitan area, which appeared to be an outbreak from a group of students at universities in the area, said Fara, Minister of Health. As the number of cases increased, scientists studied genomic sequencing and discovered new mutants.
Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said: “There are many spike mutations that can affect transmission and immune response.”
Gupta said South African scientists need time to determine if the proliferation of new cases is due to new variants. “This is likely to be the case,” he said. “South African scientists have done an incredible job of quickly identifying this and drawing the world’s attention.”
South African officials warned that a new resurgence was expected from mid-December to early January and wanted to prepare for it by vaccination of more people, Fara said.
Approximately 41% of South African adults are vaccinated, with relatively few injections per day of less than 130,000, well below the government’s target of 300,000 injections per day.
South Africa currently has about 16.5 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, with another 2.5 million doses next week, according to Nicholas Crisp, deputy director of the national health department. Is expected.
“We are vaccinated faster than we are currently using,” Crisp said. “So for some time we’ve been postponing delivery rather than reducing orders, but we’ve postponed delivery so we don’t accumulate and stockpile vaccines.”
South Africa, with a population of 60 million, has recorded more than 2.9 million COVID-19 cases, including more than 89,000 deaths.
To date, delta variants are still the most infectious and have crowded other variants that were once worried, such as alpha, beta, and mu. More than 99% are deltas, according to sequences submitted by countries around the world to the world’s largest public database.
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COVID Variant: Newly Discovered Strain Leads to Dramatic Increase in Cases in South Africa
Source link COVID Variant: Newly Discovered Strain Leads to Dramatic Increase in Cases in South Africa