In South Africa, a new coronavirus variant was discovered that appears to be extremely contagious and has a “unusual constellation” of mutations that could challenge the effectiveness of currently available vaccines. Global health authorities are scrambling to collect information on this new coronavirus variant.
Global markets have been rocked by the introduction of the omicron variant by the United States and the European Union. New variant “is of huge international concern,” according to UK health minister Sajid Javid. We should not be surprised if the variant is already present in the United States, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, and he expects it to “ultimately” spread worldwide. What you need to know is as follows:
What’s the Name of the New Variant?
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization named the “delta variant” a “omicron variant” in keeping with the greek letter system. It was previously referred to as B.1.1.529 or “the South African variant” because it was first discovered in South Africa and is currently circulating there.
What’s So Worrisome About This New Variant?
There are at least 50 mutations in the virus’ ability to enter human cells, including at least 30 changes to the spike protein that plays a critical role in the virus’ ability to infect. An unaltered spike protein is the target of coronavirus vaccines.) Ex-Biden administration Covid Response Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt tweeted that “mutation profile” is prompting scientists to fear that neither prior immunity nor vaccines will be as effective in preventing spread and infection of the new variant. “Preliminary evidence suggests” that the variant “increases the risk of reinfection,” as the WHO warns.
Does It Have a Bigger Impact?
Evidence suggests that the new variant is highly contagious, but it is difficult to determine whether it is more contagious than the others. Tulio de Oliveira is the director of South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response & Innovation. Yesterday, he tweeted: “B.1.1.529 seems to spread very quickly!” He calls B.1.1.529 a “variant of great concern.” Following a devastating Delta wave in South Africa, the variant now “dominates all infections.” “This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage,” the WHO stated.
Whether or not the Variant has spread to other parts of Africa is unknown.
Yes. It has been found in Botswana as well as in Israel, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Several travellers were found to have the variant, either during routine pre-trip testing or quarantine upon arrival. Several of the passengers had been fully vaccinated.
How are countries reacting to the crisis in the global economy?
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced a travel ban for visitors from South Africa and seven other neighbouring African states. In an effort to halt the spread of the variant, the European Union had previously blocked fights from South Africa. In Friday’s trading, global markets were down nearly 2%.
When can we expect to find out more?
There will be a period of uncertainty in Slavitt’s view: mRNA vaccines will be tested in a lab for two weeks or so to see if they work and how effective they are, he tweets.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
It may be necessary to re-engineer vaccines if a new variant is found to be evading current vaccines. New vaccine formulations could be developed in as little as 100 days by both Pfizer and Moderna, according to Slavitt’s tweets, but the delays in the approvals process, manufacturing, and distribution mean that new drugs will likely not be available until next summer.
What Other Resources Are Available to Me?
The World Health Organization has released a two-minute video that provides a comprehensive overview of the omicron variant. People are encouraged to use proven public health measures such as hygiene and masking in order to avoid exposure at the end of the article.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.
They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.
WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://t.co/bSbVas9yds pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 26, 2021
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