Explained: What do we know about the new covid-19 version b.1.1529 that is rocking the market

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a new version of coronavirus because of COVID-19 – Called B.1.1.1.529 – has been identified in South Africa, with officials there saying it is a matter of concern. Fears that a new strain could spark outbreaks in many countries, straining health systems, potentially complicating evolving vaccines and efforts to reopen economies and borders, risked global markets on Friday. sent a wave of Here’s what we know so far.

What’s different about this COVID-19 edition?

Scientists say that B.1.1529 carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays an important role in the virus’s entry into cells in the body. This is what vaccines target. Researchers are still trying to determine whether it is more transmitted or more lethal than the previous ones.

Where it came from?

So far only speculations are being made. A scientist at the UCL Genetics Institute in London said it most likely developed during a chronic infection of an immune-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient. South Africa has 8.2 million people infected with HIV, the highest in the world. The beta version, a mutation identified last year in South Africa, may also have come from an HIV-infected person.

How wide is it?

As of Thursday, about 100 cases had been detected in South Africa, where it has become the leading strain in new infections. Preliminary PCR test results showed that 90% of the 1,100 new cases reported on Wednesday in the South African province, which includes Johannesburg, were caused by the new variant, said Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatics professor. According to the two who run a gene-sequencing institute in South Africa. University. In neighboring Botswana, authorities on Monday reported four cases among people who were fully vaccinated. In Hong Kong, the variant was found near a traveler from South Africa, and another case was identified in a person living in a hotel room in the hall.

What was the reaction?

News of the new edition hit markets on Friday, with travel-related stocks in Asia falling the biggest, as investors anticipated its negative impact on travel. The UK issued a temporary ban on flights from six African countries, and Australia said it would not rule out tighter border rules for travelers from southern Africa if the situation escalates. India has stepped up screening of passengers arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. The yen, generally viewed as a safe haven asset, rose 0.4% against the dollar, while the South African rand fell to a one-year low.

How worrying is this?

It is too early to say that. The World Health Organization said less than 100 whole genomic sequences of the new variant are available, which is based on the time taken to study it, as well as how well current vaccines work against it. Viruses mutate all the time, with changes sometimes weakening the virus or sometimes making it more efficient at evading antibodies and infecting humans.

What should we see next?

WHO convened a meeting on Friday to discuss B.1.1.1.529 and decide whether it would be officially designated a Type of Interest or Concern. If it did, it would receive a Greek letter name under the WHO’s naming scheme, possibly the letter “nu”. governments will also Taking action on border and travel controls In response to the news of the edition.

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