New COVID-19 Variant Detected in South Africa; Has Twice as Many Mutations as Delta

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A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in South Africa and is raising concerns around the world as it seems to have twice as many mutations as the Delta variant. 

The COVID-19 variant, which is currently known as B.1.1.529, was first spotted in the African nation of Botswana. There are a total of 59 cases in total of the new variant in Botswana, Hong Kong, and South Africa. 

Six African countries have been placed on the United Kingdom's red list as a response to the new COVID-19 variant. These countries include South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

New COVID-19 Variant Sparks Concern

A new COVID-19 variant already spotted in places such as South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong has been sparking concerns around the world. The new variant is currently known as B.1.1.529.

According to a report by NPR, the new variant "has twice as many of the mutations displayed by the Delta variant, which became the dominant variant in most of the world over the summer."

The NPR report has noted that it is still not clear whether the mutations of the new variant makes it more infectious than other variants or if it can cause severe illness. 

The B.1.1.529 variant is currently spreading in South Africa, but the number of cases are still below the surge of cases caused by the Delta variant

According to a report by the BBC, there are a total of 59 confirmed cases of the new variant as of press time. 

Is It Worse Than the Delta Variant?

According to the BBC report, one scientist has said that it is "the worst variant they'd seen." 

The B.1.1.529 variant is "the most heavily mutated variant so far and is now radically different to the form that emerged in Wuhan, China," the report adds. 

This may spark concerns as the current vaccines meant to protect the body from COVID-19 have been designed using the original virus. These vaccines may therefore not be as effective against this new variant. 

Related Article: COVID-19 New Variant Found in Japan From Brazilian Tourist, Different From UK and Africa Mutations

The U.K. Bans Flights From Six African Nations

In response to the new COVID-19 variant currently seen in South Africa and Botswana, the United Kingdom has temporarily banned flights coming from certain African countries. 

According to the BBC report, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that, beginning on Friday at 12::00 GMT, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini will be added to the country's red list and flights from these places will be temporarily banned. 

"Any British or Irish resident arriving from the countries after 04:00 on Sunday will have to quarantine in a hotel, with those returning before that being asked to isolate at home," according to the report. 

Read Also: Scientists Warn More 'Super-Covid' Variants are Coming Globally as US Reports Third Homegrown Variant

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Written by Isabella James

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