New COVID Variant Omicron Found In South Africa Raises Concern

The B.1.1.529 carries a mutation in the spike protein that could possibly target the area where the vaccine affects the virus

Scientists in South Africa have identified a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is the trigger for the surge in cases in the country.

The B. 1.1.529 variant carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which is the area that assists the virus' entry into the human body. Researchers are still trying to find whether this variant could be more lethal and transmissible than the currently circulating variants.

The World Health Organization has named this variant of concern as Omicron. It joins the alpha, beta, gamma,and delta variants in the list of variants of concern.

News of this new variant has led to the tumble in the Asian markets as there are fears that this could lead to further outbreaks and fresh lockdowns. It could also strain health systems.

A scientist at the UCL Genetics Institute in London said that this variant probably evolved from a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.

While there are over 100 confirmed cases of the variant in the country, early PCR test results showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported Wednesday in the South African province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the new variant.

Cases have also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong. Furthermore, the U.K. has issued a temporary ban on flights from six African countries. India stepped up screening of incoming travelers from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.

Updated On: 2021-11-30T11:59:38+05:30
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