Know all about the new covid version affecting under 25

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New Delhi, 26 November

According to health officials, the new Covid-19 variant, B.1.1529, detected in South Africa is mainly affecting people under the age of 25, of whom the vaccination rate against the virus is only 26 percent.

Professor Anne von Gottberg of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that so far the variant has been detected in about 100 genomes.

Regarding the affected group, South African Health Minister Joe Fahla said: “They are at great risk,” Times Live reported.

KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (CRISP) genome sequencer Professor Tulio de Oliveira said the new variant is “supposedly related to immune-evasion and transmission”.

Twenty-two positive cases of the variant have been reported in the country following a genomic sequencing collaboration between the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, and private laboratories. In addition, other NGS-SA laboratories are confirming more cases as sequencing results come out.

“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” commented Professor Adrian Pooran, NICD’s acting executive director.

“Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all installed monitoring systems to understand the new version and what the potential impacts may be. Development is happening at a rapid pace and we have assurances to the public that we will keep them. Will keep till date.” Confirmed cases are increasing rapidly, especially in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo.

Michelle Grom, head of the Department of Public Health Surveillance and Response at NICD, said provincial health officials are on high alert and prioritizing the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples.

South African news outlets reported that with Gauteng once again emerging as the epicenter of the fourth wave of the pandemic, it is no surprise that the province has recorded the highest number of infections since version b.1.1.

While both Johannesburg and Tshwane were considered hotspots for past waves, for now the focus is on the capital. Areas such as Pretoria West, Atridgeville, Centurion, Hatfield and Soshanguwe were identified as cause for concern.

“This edition surprised us… it has made a huge leap forward in development,” said Professor de Oliveira, News24 reported.

South Africa has a large collaborative genomic surveillance network, which includes detecting and researching variants and controlling outbreaks.

CRISP is the main investigative organization of this network.

De Oliveira said it had many more mutations than scientists expected, especially after a severe third wave, which was driven by the delta variant.

“Many mutations are of concern for immune evasion and transmissibility. We can see that the variant is potentially spreading very rapidly … We expect, unfortunately, in the healthcare system in the next few days and weeks.” Will start seeing the pressure.” The report said that about 90 percent of such cases were from Gauteng.

The team is preparing data from other provinces.

Another scientist pointed out that there were early indications from clinical laboratory tests that the variant may already be present in several other provinces, although he cautioned that this was based on a small number of positive PCR tests.

“The cases in other provinces are not increasing to the same extent, but it gives us concern that this variant could spread quite widely in the country,” said Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist involved in monitoring the Covid-19 variant.

IANS