5 things to know about the new variant of coronavirus B.1.1.529

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New Delhi:

A new variant of the coronavirus – B.1.1.529 – has been reported by scientists around the world because of an alarming number of cutting edge mutations that could make the virus more resistant to vaccines, increase its transmissibility and cause symptoms of More serious Covid.

First identified in South Africa earlier this week, the strain has already spread to neighboring countries, including Botswana, where it has been detected in fully vaccinated people.

Two cases were also detected in Hong Kong – where two travelers arriving from parts of southern Africa had been quarantined, according to local laws, in separate rooms.

India on Thursday called for stringent screening of passengers from the three countries. The contacts of these travelers must also be monitored and tested, the Union’s health ministry said.

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Here are five things to know about the new COVID-19 variant:

  1. The B.1.1.529 variant carries an unusually high number of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, Tulio de Oliveira, a South African bioinformatics professor, told reporters at a conference yesterday. Press. More than 100 cases have already been linked to this variant in South Africa, and several more in neighboring Botswana.
  2. Samples from two people infected in Hong Kong returned “very high” viral loads, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted this morning. “PCR Ct values ​​of 18 and 19 … incredibly high considering they were negative in recent PCR tests,” he said. What is more concerning is that the patients were in separate rooms, which suggests that the new variant is airborne.
  3. The B.1.1.529 variant has 50 mutations in total, including more than 30 on the spike protein alone. The spike protein is the target of most current vaccines and which the virus uses to unlock access to cells in our body. There are 10 mutations on the receptor binding domain of the variant versus only two for the Delta variant that have wreaked havoc around the world.
  4. “We don’t know much about this (variant) yet. What we do know is that this variant has a lot of mutations, and the concern is that when you have that many mutations, it can have a impact on how the virus behaves, ”said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO COVID-19 Technical Officer, stressing the importance of a full dose of vaccination.
  5. Other countries have reacted cautiously to the new variant, which experts say could delay global efforts to overcome the Covid pandemic. The UK acted quickly, banning flights from South Africa, Botswana and other countries in southern Africa.
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With the contribution of Reuters, TNZT

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