A new Covid-19 variant has been detected in South Africa. According to eNCA the Variant B.1.1.529 has been found in Botswana and Hong Kong and has an extremely hight number of mutations.
At this stage, experts say they are unsure if the current programme of Covid vaccines in SA will work against the new variant.
Professor Alex van den Heever of the Wits School of Governance says it is still early days, so the question is out on whether this variant escapes the current vaccines in SA.
“It is worrying that such a variant has occurred, but I think it is also inevitable in a way that we are going to see this. The real question is whether past variants and vaccines will still protect us against this particular variant. And I haven’t really seen any analysis of that yet,” he said.
He adds that SA is keeping a close watch on new variants in the genomic analysis.
“The question also is whether or not this particular variant is going to be more infectious than, for instance, the Delta variant, and therefore might actually spread very quickly. We don’t know,” he said.
Earlier this week, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported a pike in Covid-19 cases in Gauteng, more especially in the Tshwane region.
NICD acting executive director, Prof Adrian Puren, said they had observed an increase in the seven-day moving average of new Covid cases, and the percentage testing positive in Gauteng, particularly in Tshwane among 10 to 29 age group over the past week.
The NICD has also identified a cluster among the 20 to 44 age group at an institute of higher education in Tshwane. Puren said the NICD was monitoring the trends to see if these increases persist. Meanwhile, reports state that SA could be heading into a 4th wave around the festive season in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday, NICD reported an increase of 1 275 new Covid cases, which represents a 3.6% positivity rate. A further 22 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89 657 to date.