Covid 19 coronavirus delta outbreak: new mutant strain reaches Israel
Covid 19 Delta outbreak: There have been 173 new cases in the community today. NZ Herald Video
The South African variant B.1.1.529 has been discovered in Israel, Israel’s health ministry said.
The variant was found in a traveler from the African nation of Malawi.
Two other cases of Covid-positive returnees from abroad are also suspected of being infected with the new strain.
The ministry said genetic sequencing has been done and results are pending.
The three travelers would have been vaccinated.
There are reportedly 77 cases of the new strain in South Africa, 4 in Botswana and 2 in Hong Kong.
The emergence of the worrying new variant of Covid in South Africa worries many scientists, especially for its mutations in a specific area.
A senior science adviser in the UK called it the “worst” variant of super-mutant Covid.
The UK Health Secretary said this could make vaccines at least 40% less effective and as a result he said they had banned flights from South Africa and five other countries in the region .
Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett said the rapidly spreading B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa was notable for the number of mutations it contains, but also for where many of them were found.
“Usually a new variant only has a handful of important mutations,” she told news.com.au.
While there may be other minor changes, the larger ones usually change things like the transmissibility of the virus for example.
Compared to the handful of major mutations in other variants, the latest version had over 50 mutations, which Bennett said was “unusual.”
“More than 30 are in the pointe region alone,” she said.
Mutations in the peak region are particularly important because this is where the virus attaches to human cells. It is also on this part of the vaccines against the virus that are concentrated.
The World Health Organization said this variant had at least 10 mutations linked to the receptor binding domain on the protein peak. That compares to two for Delta or three for Beta.
“The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on the behavior of the virus,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical officer on Covid-19, said during a virtual press briefing.
“It will take a few weeks for us to understand the impact of this variant on potential vaccines.”
As new variants like B.1.1.529 emerge, the way the world handles Covid may change again.
“This is entering a new era, which is all about surveillance,” Professor Bennett said.
Britain has already closed its border to people coming from South Africa and Professor Michael Baker said New Zealand border controls could help our response.
“The good news for New Zealand – or the reassuring news for us – is that whatever this variant does, New Zealand is in a good position to handle the threat because we know we can stop this virus from entering if we and most countries obviously are not in that lucky position, “Baker told RNZ.
– Additional reports, RNZ, News.com.au