South Africa : New Covid variant found, 5 times stronger than delta

25 November 2021

Johannesburg: On Thursday, scientists in South Africa detected a new Covid-19 variant with multiple mutations. It's 5 times more dangerous than the delta variant due to its increased number of mutations. The new variant named B.1.1.529 has at least 10 mutations, compared to only 2 for Delta and 3 for Beta.

This new variant is causing a resurgence of infections in the country. According to the latest available data, daily infections shot to more than 1,200 on Wednesday, up from around 100 earlier this month.

The government-run National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 22 positive cases of the B.1.1.529 variant have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing.

The country has the highest pandemic numbers in Africa with around 2.95 million cases, of which 89,657 have been fatal.

"What gives us some concerns (is) that this variant might have not just have enhanced transmissibility, so spread more efficiently, but might also be able to get around parts of the immune system and the protection we have in our immune system," said researcher Richard Lessells.

So far the variant has been seen spreading especially among young people. But the coming days and weeks will be key to determining the severity of the variant, Lessells further added.

After a rather slow start to South Africa's vaccination campaign, around 41 percent of adults have received at least a single dose, while 35 percent are fully vaccinated.

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