Johannesburg— A worrying and new variant of the coronavirus, whose mutations show “a great leap in evolution”, are causing an increase in new Covid-19 infections in South Africa, according to scientists announced this Thursday.
In the last 36 hours after observing an increase in infections in South Africa’s economic center, Gauteng province, scientists detected the B1.1.529 variant.
So far, 22 positive cases have been identified in that country, according to the South African Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Since the start of the pandemic, a number of variants have emerged. One concern about the new variant is whether it will hamper progress against the pandemic or limit the effectiveness of vaccines.
South African scientists will meet with the technical team of the World Health Organization this Friday, where the authorities will assign a letter of the Greek alphabet to the variant.
The Botswana health minister confirmed through a statement four cases of the new variant that was detected in people who are fully vaccinated. All four were tested before taking a trip. A sample was also detected in Hong Kong, in a traveler from South Africa, according to scientists from that country.
With more than 1,200 new infections, the daily infection rate in South Africa is much lower than in Germany, where new cases are causing a surge.
However, the density of the mutations in this new variant raises fears that they could be highly contagious, prompting scientists to sound the alarm early.