Worrisome Variant Emerges in S. Africa

A PCR COVID test is performed at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 17, 2020. Image: Luke Walker/Getty
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A PCR COVID test is performed at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 17, 2020. Image: Luke Walker/Getty

A new South Africa variant of SARS-CoV-2 is prompting concerns about increased transmission and how effective current vaccines will be against it, Al Jazeera reports.

  • The variant has multiple mutations in the spike protein that infects cells.

  •  It also has been linked to “a “higher concentration of virus particles in patients’ bodies,” Al Jazeera reports.

  • Oxford’s John Bell said there’s a “big question mark” about whether the emerging crop of COVID-19 vaccines would work against the variant.

  • Britain has restricted all flights from South Africa.

 
Meanwhile, a new study by Imperial College researchers estimates the UK variant increases the reproduction number (a gauge of how contagious a disease is) by bewteen 0.4 to 0.7, the BBC reports. The UK’s latest R0 is believed to be 1.1 to 1.3.
 
The UK variant will require tougher restrictions, said Jim Naismith, an Oxford professor.
 
The Quote: “… unless we do something different the new virus strain is going to continue to spread, more infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths,” said Naismith.

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