WHO holds a special meeting to discuss a new Covid variant with “a large number of mutations” from South Africa

RT: On January 29, 2020, Maria Van Kerkhove, head of emerging and zoonotic diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO), delivered a speech at the UN press conference on the coronavirus situation.

Dennis Barribus | Reuters

Officials said on Thursday that the World Health Organization is monitoring a new variant that has many mutations in the spike protein and has scheduled a special meeting on Friday to discuss what it might mean for vaccines and treatments.

According to the World Health Organization, this variant named B.1.1.529 has been found in small quantities in South Africa.

“We don’t know much about it yet. What we do know is that this variant has a lot of mutations. The worrying thing is that when you have so many mutations, it affects the way the virus behaves,” WHO Covid- 19 The head of technology, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said in a Q&A live on the organization’s social media channels.

The monitoring of the new variant comes from Covid cases surge worldwide Entering the holidays, WHO reported all regions, especially hot spots in Europe.

South African scientist Tulio de Oliveira said at a media briefing hosted by the South African Ministry of Health on Thursday that South African scientists have detected more than 30 mutations in the spike protein. The part of the virus that binds to cells in the body.

According to the slides he showed at the briefing, the B.1.1.529 variant contains multiple mutations associated with increased antibody resistance, which may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, as well as mutations that generally make it more infectious . According to reports, other mutations in the new variant have not been discovered until now, so scientists do not yet know whether they are important or will change the way the virus behaves.

South Africa’s Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, said at a briefing that the variant was also found in Botswana and Hong Kong.

“Researchers are now getting together to understand where these mutations are in the spike protein and furin cleavage site, and what this might mean for our diagnosis or treatment and our vaccine,” Van Kerkhove said. She said that there are fewer than 100 genome-wide sequences of new mutations.

Van Kerkhove said that the virus evolution working group will decide whether B.1.1.529 will be a variant of concern or a variant of concern, after which WHO will assign a Greek name to the variant.

Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Project, said: “It is very important that there are no subconscious reactions here, especially those related to South Africa.”


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