Scientists in South Africa have discovered a new COVID-19 variant


Posted on 25 November 2021


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Scientists in South Africa have discovered a new COVID-19 variant in modest numbers and are trying to figure out its potential implications. Scientists told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that the variety, known as B.1.1.529, has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations that are alarming because they could enable it to dodge the body's immune response and become more transmissible. Following genetic sequencing, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 22 positive instances of the novel variation in the country. “Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa,” said virologist Tulio de Oliveira at a press briefing. It's also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong among South African travellers, he said. The variant is of "serious concern," according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, and is responsible for a "exponential" surge in recorded cases, making it "a major threat." On Wednesday, the number of daily infections increased to almost 1,200.


Key Points


  • Scientists in South Africa have discovered a new COVID-19 variant in modest numbers and are trying to figure out its potential implications.

  • On Wednesday, the number of daily infections increased to almost 1,200.