New Covid Strain B.1.1.529 in South Africa More Lethal Than Delta Strain

2 Dec, 2021 15:50 IST|Sakshi Post

What makes the new COVID strain so much more lethal than the Delta strain?

In South Africa, where the new strain is steadily taking hold, over 100 cases have been discovered.

New Delhi: As the world reopens after 18–20 months of lockdowns and the COVID-19 pandemic, a new coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.529 has been discovered in South Africa, raising fears among scientists that this new strain could fuel outbreaks in several countries and cripple health systems once more.

In South Africa, where the new strain is steadily taking hold, over 100 cases have been discovered.

Here are five things you should know about this deadly super COVID variant that has prompted the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, and Singapore to impose travel bans on South Africa and other countries in the region.

1. As per South African health experts, the 'B.1.1.529' variant contains many more mutations than scientists predicted, particularly following a catastrophic third wave triggered by the Delta variant. The immune evasion and transmissibility of several of the mutations are of concern.

2. The spike protein of B.1.1.529 has a lot of mutations, which is important for the virus's entrance into human cells. The B.1.1.529 variant includes 50 mutations in total, with more than 30 of them occurring in the spike protein alone, which is the focus of most current Covid vaccines.

3. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that determining the impact of the new variant will take a few weeks. It is the most severely mutated variant yet, according to scientists, which implies vaccinations based on the original strain from Wuhan, China, may not be as effective. The World Health Organization has convened a conference to review B.1.1.529 and determine if it will be designated as a variant of concern.

4. The strain was first discovered in South Africa last week and has now spread to neighbouring nations, including Botswana. "In a person who returned from Malawi," Israel discovered a Covid-19 variant with a considerable number of mutations. In Hong Kong, two cases have been discovered. India has demanded that travellers from South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong be thoroughly screened.

5. Speculation on the origin of the variant continues to circulate. The new strain "likely evolved during the chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient," according to Francois Balloux, Director of the University College London Genetics Institute.

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