There are thousands of mutant variants being created every day in South Africa, despite super spreading fears

The new super-Covid variant is believed to be responsible for thousands of new South African cases every day.

The nation’s infections have rocketed in a matter of days amid the detection of the new strain, sparking global concern.

Top Covid tracker Dr Tulio de Oliveira, director at the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (where scientists are pictured working) claimed the new variant had already become dominant in South Africa in the space of two weeks


Top Covid tracker Dr Tulio da Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (where scientists can be pictured working), claimed that the new variant was already dominant in South Africa in less than two weeks.Credit:

South Africa was experiencing a low number of Covid cases during this period.

On Thursday, however, 2,465 people were diagnosed. This is almost twice the number of Wednesday’s 1,275 and an increase from the 794 that was recorded seven days earlier.

It is almost 10 times more common than one month ago, meaning that infections have nearly quadrupled within a week.

It is unknown how many of these cases are due to the so-called B.1.1.529. Only 100 cases have been identified and confirmed by genetic sequencing.

South African scientists are currently trying to determine how many of these new cases may have been caused in part by the new variant. This variant initially appears to spread quicker and is resistant to immune suppression.

But most of the nation’s confirmed cases are in the Gauteng province, where the majority of positive swabs that have been through laboratory testing signal the new variant.

The nation’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Thursday the new variant appears to be driving the spike in cases.

Scientists are still trying to determine if it is responsible for the sudden outbreak.

Dr Tulio, a top Covid tracker in South Africa and Virologist, said it had already been dominant in two weeks. It suggests the thousands of cases each day are B.1.1.529.

He said it was estimated it was behind 90 per cent of cases in the Gauteng province – which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Talk about the “exponential growth in cases”, the UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said today analysis “does indicate that there could many more cases of this new variant than just those that have been sequenced so far”.

Positive tests for strains are not always screened. Therefore, confirmed cases are often lower than the real number.

Pretoria was the first to experience a surge. The cluster outbreaks that occurred in surrounding areas were likely caused by student gatherings at universities.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UK Health Security Agency said that the R rate in Gauteng, South Africa, where the variant is clustered, has jumped to 2.

It was, she said. “really quite high”Similar to what it would have been in the UK prior to the March 2020 lockdown.

South Africa wasn’t a high-vaccinated country, but it was. “highly immune”Dr Hopkins stated that this was because of a previous infection.

It is being investigated whether the new variant could be causing new infections in patients who have received a coronavirus vaccine or another vaccine.

‘Worst ever’

Experts agree that this virus is the most severe. However, its significance is still unknown.

It has twice the number of mutations as the Delta variant. The latter took global dominance by 2021 and is currently considered the best. “most fit”Versions of the virus that have been tested so far.

Mutations are what give viruses their advantages. The B.1.1.529 contains a mixture of several deadly variants that were developed in the last year.

Prof Lawrence Young, Virologist and Professor of Molecular Oncology, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, said: “This new variant of the Covid-19 virus is very worrying.  

“It is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date.  

“This variant carries some changes we’ve seen previously in other variants but never all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations that we’ve not seen before.  

“Some of the mutations that are similar to changes we’ve seen in other variants of concern are associated with enhanced transmissibility and with partial resistance to immunity induced by vaccination or natural infection.”

Friday’s assessment of South Africa data was the subject of a technical group led by the World Health Organization.

It will decide if the new variant deserves to be designated a “Variant of Interest”Oder “Variant of Concern”.

These genetic mutations are known to have an impact on transmissibility, disease severity, infectivity, and immunity. 

It has been given the title of “British” in the UK. “Variant of Interest of high priority”.

Spreading quickly

Belgium, which follows Israel earlier today, is the latest country that has confirmed it has detected the variant.

It means the variant has been confirmed in five countries as of yet – but is already deemed a “huge international concern” by the UK’s Health Sec Mr Javid.

He said it to MPs in the House of Commons “highly likely”The B.1.1.529 variant was already well-known in Africa and other countries.

The UK’s travel red lists were updated on Thursday evening by the Government, adding South Africa, Botswana Botswana Lesotho and Eswatini to Namibia.

But it’s already possible the variant is spreading here despite the swift action.

Experts believe that B.1.1.529 could end up in Britain. However, efforts to reduce transmission and buy time would be beneficial.

Sharon Peacock, the head of COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium said to reporters: “I think buying is important and it’s worth it because we can figure out what we have to know about that variant.

“This is part of important planning and preparation for something that I would guess is likely to be transmitted into the UK at some point, but it buys that time.”

Sajid Javid speaks to the Commons about the new Covid-19 variant

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