A new type of COVID-19, whose large number of mutations could threaten the efficacy of current vaccines, has been detected in South Africa, scientists said Thursday.
“Unfortunately, we have discovered a new species of concern in South Africa,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira said in an online press conference.
The B.1.1.529 variant has an “extremely high” number of mutations, according to the South African scientists who previously discovered the infectious beta variant.
At this point, scientists aren’t sure how effective the COVID vaccines will be against this new form of the virus.
The emergence of this variable is undoubtedly the origin of the “exponential” increase in pollution in recent weeks, according to Health Minister Joe Bhalla, present at the press conference.
Other cases have been reported in neighboring Botswana and Hong Kong, of a person returning from a trip to South Africa.
South Africa, which fears the emergence of a new wave of the epidemic by the end of the year, is officially the hardest-hit on the continent by this epidemic. It has more than 2.9 million cases and more than 89,600 deaths.
The global epidemic is currently dominated by the spread of the highly contagious delta type, which was initially detected in India.
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