A team of South African researchers, led by Professor Túlio de Oliveira, has detected a new variant of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus which affects younger patients, the Minister of Health announced today.
“The ‘501.V2’ variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus has been identified by South African researchers and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO),” Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.
According to the South African government official, the South African scientific research team, led by Professor Túlio de Oliveira of the Center for Innovation and Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (KRISP), has sequenced hundreds of samples from all over the world. the country since the start of the pandemic in March.
“The researchers noted that one particular variant dominated the results over the past two months,” Mkhize explained, noting that they also noticed a change in the epidemiological scenario, “particularly in younger patients, who develop severe forms of the disease. “
“Everything indicates that the second wave that we are crossing is carried by this new variant,” added the minister.
According to Zweli Mkhize, the researchers also alerted the UK to the identification of the new South African variant, which allowed them “to study their own samples and find a similar variant”.
“This is the variant that drove its resurgence in London, leading to an announcement in Parliament and the blockade instituted in London to contain the spread of this variant,” he said.
Zweli Mkhize said he did not expect a second wave of the pandemic so quickly in the country, adding that “although the new variant is concerning, there is no reason to panic”.
The South African Minister of Health also explained that South Africa will also check whether the current vaccines will be effective in preventing the new variant.
South Africa, the country most affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic on the continent, records 901,538 infections and 24,285 deaths from covid-19, South African health officials have said.
In the past 24 hours, the country has reported 8,700 new cases of infection and 274 deaths from covid-19.