South Africa has identified a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, officials said Thursday. Experts say that although this new form of the virus has many mutations and can be highly contagious, there is no reason to panic.
Andre Veillette, a medical professor and director of the Department of Molecular Cancer Research at the Institute of Medical Research from Montreal, warns that “no one should be arrogant” if the situation is not so worrying at the moment. “Is the variant too contagious? Is it more resistant to vaccines? Does it cause more serious diseases? 2, Mr. Weillet asks. Very soon to find out.
Viralist Tulio de Oliveira said the B.1.1529 variant, found in South Africa, showed a “very high” number of mutations. It could spread very quickly, the latter added, during an online press conference chaired by the Ministry of Health. This Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) meets to determine the risk of a new variant.
To date, 22 cases have been reported, mainly among young people, according to the National Institute for Infectious Diseases. Infections have been reported in Botswana and Hong Kong for a man who returned to South Africa. Following the announcement by the South African government, the UK suspended flights from the country and from Namibia, Lesotho, Ezwatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
With the increase in cases in recent weeks and the emergence of this new variant, South African authorities fear a new wave of the epidemic. With a total of 2.9 million cases, South Africa is the most affected country on the African continent.
For now, Andre Violet explains that anxiety about variation is caused not by a number of cases, but by a number of mutations. Although some changes may have no effect and may slow the reproduction of the virus, mutations of the new variant occur in the area where the Covit-19 vaccine is active. “Vaccines have little potential to protect against this variant, but we do not yet have evidence for this,” he said.
Due to the low vaccination rate in South Africa, this variation may have developed in the unvaccinated population. So it is “not suitable” for vaccines, says Benoit Barbeau, a virologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal. In this country, 35% of adults have received adequate immunizations.
However, due to the high number of mutations, the discovery made in South Africa, Mr. According to Barbie, it represents a “new reality in terms of differences.” He believes that decision-making is just the beginning, given the fact that cases of the new variant have been identified mainly among young people. “Do the elderly get vaccinated too much? He asks himself.
Is the delta variant downgraded?
In addition to causing side effects in the vaccine, some mutations can spread further until a variant dominates.
According to the WHO, the delta variant is an example of a 40% reduction in the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To illustrate dominance among variants, M. Veillette compares them to runners. “Some variations go so fast, they take,” he explains. Other variants spread more slowly, but can still affect those who have been vaccinated. “These variations will be better in the course of the ban,” he says succinctly.
Roxanne Borges da Silva, a professor at the University of Montreal School of Public Health, underscores that “we can live with a certain default by vaccination” until delta diversity dominates. The real fear is to see the emergence of a vaccine-resistant variant, Mr. Violet adds.
Warning and third dose
While waiting to learn more, one must continue to be vigilant in dealing with the virus and respect health guidelines, Andre Violet recalled. “At the planetary level the situation is even weaker,” he maintains. Europe has once again become a global center of epidemics.
In this context, Mr. According to Violet, it is necessary to take a third dose. “We need to be protected as much as possible because we don’t know what will happen,” the professor concludes.
With Agencies France-Press
Number of deaths due to infection in South Africa
Number of new cases registered in South Africa on Wednesday
Source: Agencies France-Press