The World Health Organization (WHO) held a special meeting to discuss the new strain of Covid-19 that is at risk of spreading.
According to WHO officials, the new strain, known as B.1.1.529, has been detected in South Africa with some infections.
“We don’t know a lot about this variant yet. What we do know is that this strain has a large number of mutations. The worry is that when there are too many mutations, they can have an impact on how it works. virus activity,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical team leader on Covid-19 , at a meeting on November 25.
WHO is still monitoring the new strain and is holding a special meeting on November 26 to discuss the issue.
Dr. Van Kerkhove said that the WHO working group on the mutation process of the virus will look to decide whether B.1.1.529 is classified as a mutation of concern or concern, and then WHO will place it. give this variant the Greek name.
The monitoring of the new strain comes as Covid-19 cases around the world are increasing ahead of the holiday season. Meanwhile, WHO reports Covid-19 hotspots in all regions, especially Europe.
Britain announced it would ban flights from six African countries, including South Africa, starting at noon on November 26. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK’s Health Security Service was “investigating a new strain”.
“More data is still needed, but we are taking precautions now,” added Minister Javid.
According to scientists, the B.1.1.529 variant was first discovered in Botswana with 32 mutations in the spike protein. Mutations in the spike protein can change the ability of the virus to infect human cells and spread, or can also make it harder for immune cells to attack the pathogen.
With 32 mutations, B.1.1.529 was found to be the most mutated variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus so far.
After 3 patients in Botswana, 6 new mutated infections were detected in South Africa and 1 case was recorded in Hong Kong. The patient in Hong Kong recently traveled from South Africa, putting scientists on high alert, over fears the new strain could spread anywhere through international travel. The Hong Kong patient is said to have received 2 full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Information about the variant B.1.1.529, expected to be called “Nu”, was shared by Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London’s Department of Infectious Diseases. Mr. Peacock warned the new strain’s very high mutation volume suggested this could be “really worrying”, stressing the need to closely monitor strain B.1.1.529 because of the number of mutations.” terrible”.
Professor Ravi Gupta at the University of Cambridge said that his laboratory studies have found two mutations in B.1.1.529 that can increase the infectivity of the virus and decrease the ability to recognize antibodies. .
Up to now, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has continuously mutated, creating mutations, including strains classified as “worrying” due to its stronger ability to spread and easier to avoid immunity. or more virulent. The most worrying mutation right now is Delta – the cause of the number of infections skyrocketing globally in recent months.