Another COVID-19 variant with a worrying lineage has been detected in South Africa, with 22 cases found so far. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed its findings on Thursday afternoon.
The reason this particular variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, is causing so much panic comes down to its genetic make-up. researches say it comes with 32 different mutations, and carries several spike proteins which have made previous strains so problematic. The news comes just weeks before the festive season.
In their statement issued earlier today, the NICD revealed that cases of COVID-19 are increasing across THREE provinces – Gauteng, North West, and Limpopo. The emergence of a new variant, therefore, couldn’t have come at a worse time… but the experts are extremely keen to remind everyone that there’s ‘no need to panic’:
Viruses change through mutation, and new variants of a virus like the novel coronavirus are expected to occur over time. There is therefore no need to panic. #NewVariant #B11529 pic.twitter.com/HsXwiVM5CV— NICD (@nicd_sa) November 25, 2021
At this stage, it’s too early to tell what the new variant means for South Africa. There’s not yet any evidence that B.1.1.529 is more transmissible than Delta, and that’s truly the most crucial point of all.
“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, confirms that through collaborative efforts with private laboratories, a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, has been detected in South Africa. Twenty-two positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded in the country.”
This follows genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories. In addition, other NGS-SA laboratories are confirming more cases as sequencing results come out. Detected cases and percentage testing positive are both increasing quickly, particularly in Gauteng, North West, and Limpopo.”NICD statement