A newly discovered coronavirus strain with a significant number of mutations has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to convene a special emergency meeting to discuss how to address the developed version.
The global health body’s technical head on COVID-19, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, announced the upcoming meeting during a live-stream on Thursday Q&A session, said experts will gather on Friday to talk about the new strain, called B.1.1529, now found in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.
“Our Technical Advisory Group on Virus Development is discussing this with our colleagues in South Africa,” Van Kerkhove said of the new version, adding “We’re meeting again tomorrow.”
We are calling a special meeting to discuss this, not a cause for alarm, but just because we have the system, we can bring these scientists together and discuss ‘What does this mean?’
Little is currently known about the newly emerging strain, the WHO official continued, noting that there are fewer than 100 complete genomic sequences available for review. What is known, however, is that the version has already been seen “A large number of mutations,” Raise questions and concerns about its impact on diagnosis, therapy and vaccination. As researchers continue to look at the strain, van Kerkhove said it could take several weeks before any insight into how to vaccinate against B.1.1.
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan pointed this out “Several worrying mutations in spike protein” South African version, referring to the biological mechanism that allows the coronavirus to enter host cells and cause infection.
Ravi Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at Cambridge University – who previously warning of possibility “Super Mutants” The COVID variant – also said that their laboratory work identified two specific mutations in the new strain that can increase infectivity and reduce antibody detection.
Responding to WHO’s comments on the new COVID strain, the British government temporarily suspended flights Six African countries, along with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, called the move a precautionary measure. Israel also said bar traveler from South Africa and other countries of the continent.
Tulio de Oliveira, Director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, said The Financial Times reported that up to 90% of new infections in the country’s Gauteng region – which includes Johannesburg, a major city – involve the new variant. He said he recently expressed concern ahead of the WHO emergency meeting, and that “The important question to answer is what effect the vaccines actually have.”
However, despite the concerns, Van Kerkhove expressed some optimism during Thursday’s question-and-answer session, saying that the version revealed was in itself a good sign, as “That means we have a system” To quickly identify and deal with new, potentially dangerous strains.
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