New variant of Covid in South Africa affecting under 25s, Health News, ET HealthWorld


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The new variant of Covid-19, B.1.1.529, detected in South Africa mainly affects people under the age of 25, among whom the vaccination rate against the virus is only 26%, according to officials of health.

Professor Anne von Gottberg of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said the variant has been detected in around 100 genomes so far.

Of the affected group, South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said: “They are at great risk,” Times Live reported.

KwaZulu-Natal Research Sequencing and Innovation Platform (Krisp) genome sequencer Professor Tulio de Oliveira said the new variant “is of concern for predicted immune evasion and transmissibility.” .

Twenty-two positive cases of the variant have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing collaborations between the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, and private laboratories. Additionally, other NGS-SA labs are confirming more cases as sequencing results are released.

“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” comments Professor Adrian Puren, Acting Executive Director of NICD.

“Although the data is limited, our experts are working overtime with all 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 confidence that we will keep them updated to this day. “

Confirmed cases are increasing rapidly, especially in Gauteng, the Northwest and Limpopo.

Michelle Groome, head of the public health surveillance and response division at NICD, said provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritizing the sequencing of samples positive for Covid-19.

South African media reported that with Gauteng once again becoming the epicenter of the fourth wave of the pandemic, it is not surprising that the province has recorded the highest number of B.1.1 variant infections. 529.

While Johannesburg and Tshwane were both considered hot spots for previous waves, for now the focus is on the capital. Areas such as Pretoria West, Atteridgeville, Centurion, Hatfield and Soshanguve have been identified as a source of concern.

“This variant surprised us … It has a big evolutionary leap,” Professor de Oliveira said, News 24 reported.

South Africa has a large collaborative genomic surveillance network, which involves the detection and testing of variants and the control of epidemics.

Krisp is the main investigative institute in this network.

De Oliveira added that he had many more mutations than scientists expected, especially after a severe third wave, caused by the Delta variant.

“A lot of the mutations are of concern for immune evasion and transmissibility. We can see the variant potentially spreading very quickly … We unfortunately expect to start seeing pressure in the health care system in the next few days and weeks. “

About 90 percent of cases linked to this variant were from Gauteng, it added, the report adds.

The team generates data from other provinces.

Another scientist pointed out that there were early signs from laboratory diagnostic tests that this variant could already be present in many other provinces, although he warned that this was based on a much smaller number of tests. PCR positive.

“Cases are not increasing to the same extent in other provinces, but it makes us fear that this variant is circulating quite widely in the country,” said Richard Lessells, an infectious disease expert involved in the surveillance of variants of Covid-19.

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