New Coronavirus Variant With Unusually Large No of Mutations: Focus of WHO Meet

As per National Institute for Communicable Diseases, South Africa has currently detected 22 cases of the variant.

2 min read
Coronavirus variants. Image used for representational purposes.

On Thursday, 25 November, officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) held a meeting to discuss a new coronavirus variant, that is currently prevalent in South Africa and Botswana.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, South Africa has currently detected 22 cases of the variant.

In a statement published by the Science Media Centre, Francois Balloux, the director of the UCL Genetics Institute said the variant called B.1.1529, carries an unusually large number of mutations, Bloomberg reported.


'Experts Are Working Overtime to Understand the Variant and Its Implications'

He said it is likely to "have evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient."

At this stage it is difficult to predict how transmissable the variant would be, said Balloux. While it has to be closely monitored and analysed now, he said, "there is no reason to get overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future."

In a statement, Adrian Puren, the NICD Acting Executive Director said it was not surprising to find that this new variant had been found in South Africa.

"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," he said, as per Bloomberg.

Earlier, The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had said it would hold a meeting with South African officials next week to discuss the new variant that has emerged in the country

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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