POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - WORLD

Covid-19

A new variant worries scientists



Highly contagious and with multiple mutations, a potentially devastating new variant of covid-19 has scientists in South Africa worried.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Highly contagious and with multiple mutations, a potentially devastating new variant of covid-19 has scientists in South Africa worried.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Variant B.1.1.529, a new variant of the covid-19 virus, was discovered in South Africa and is potentially more contagious due to its numerous mutations, possibly making it more resistant to vaccines.

The highly contagious and multi-mutated new variant of covid-19, “variant B.1.1.529”, has been detected in South Africa, where scientists at the Krisp Research Institute point to a potential for very rapid spread and numerous mutations. The same institute discovered the Beta variant last year.

With little data available, scientists do not yet know the effectiveness of vaccines against this new variant of the virus. They fear increased resistance and transmission as the pandemic undergoes a new outbreak. What particularly worries scientists is the number of mutations in this new variant: 10, compared to 2 for the Delta variant, which is already highly transmissible.

Following the announcement of this discovery, the United Kingdom decided to ban travellers from six African countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

In Luxembourg, the National Health Laboratory (LNS) stated in a press release on 26 November, that all 596 specimens tested were attributed to the Delta variant. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was closely monitoring the situation.

As a reminder, the covid-19 virus has a large number of variants, not all of which are equally dangerous and potentially infectious.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano. Additional reporting by Delano.