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Thursday Nov 25 2021
By
Reuters

South Africa detects new COVID-19 variant

By
Reuters
Dennis Malattji takes his coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine while a health worker looks on inside the Transvaco COVID-19 vaccine train, as South Africas rail company Transnet turned the train into a COVID-19 vaccination center on rails to help the government speed up its vaccine rollout in the countrys remote communities, at the Springs train station on the East Rand, South Africa, August 27, 2021. — Reuters/File
Dennis Malattji takes his coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine while a health worker looks on inside the Transvaco COVID-19 vaccine train, as South Africa's rail company Transnet turned the train into a COVID-19 vaccination center on rails to help the government speed up its vaccine rollout in the country's remote communities, at the Springs train station on the East Rand, South Africa, August 27, 2021. — Reuters/File
  • South Africa was the first country to detect the Beta variant last year.
  • 22 cases of new variant recorded following genomic sequencing.
  • Scientists working to understand new variant's potential implications.


JOHANNESBURG: South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Thursday.

The NICD said in a statement that 22 cases of variant B.1.1.529 had been recorded following genomic sequencing.

"Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be," the statement quoted the NICD's Professor Adrian Puren as saying.

South Africa was the first country to detect the Beta variant last year. Beta is one of only four labelled "of concern" by the World Health Organization because there is evidence that it is more transmissible and vaccines work less well against it.

The country detected another variant, C.1.2, earlier this year, but it has not displaced the more common Delta variant and still only accounts for a relatively small percentage of genomes sequenced.