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Heavily Mutated Covid Variant Puts World On Edge

Fast-spreading 'variant of concern' may cancel the effectiveness of COVID vaccines

Biden to restrict travel from South Africa and 7 other countries starting Monday

From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Nov 26, 2021

President Biden will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday as a new coronavirus variant has emerged, administration officials tell CNN.

Acting on advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Biden administration will restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Officials, who are still learning more about the variant, said the policy was implemented out of an abundance of caution given the World Health Organization has now identified this as a variant of concern … read more. 

Heavily mutated coronavirus variant puts scientists on alert

Nov 25, 2021

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NATURE – Researchers in South Africa are racing to track the concerning rise of a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The variant harbors a large number of mutations found in other variants, including Delta, and it seems to be spreading quickly across South Africa.

A top priority is to follow the variant more closely as it spreads: it was first identified in Botswana this month and has turned up in travelers to Hong Kong from South Africa.

Scientists are also trying to understand the variant’s properties, such as whether it can evade immune responses triggered by vaccines and whether it causes more or less severe disease than other variants do.

“We’re flying at warp speed,” says Penny Moore, a virologist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, whose lab is gauging the variant’s potential to dodge immunity from vaccines and previous infections.

“The variant has a large number of mutations in its spike protein, which may enable it to transmit easily from person to person. It may also allow it to escape protection from vaccines and natural infection.” – Health24

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There are anecdotal reports of reinfections and cases in vaccinated individuals, but “at this stage it’s too early to tell anything,” Moore adds.

Richard Lessells, an infectious disease physician at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, said at a press briefing organized by South Africa’s health department on 25 November:

“There’s a lot we don’t understand about this variant,”

“The mutation profile gives us concern, but now we need to do the work to understand the significance of this variant and what it means for the response to the pandemic.”

A World Health Organization (WHO) expert group will meet on 26 November, and will likely label the strain — currently known as B.1.1.529 — as a variant of concern or variant of interest, Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said at the briefing.

The variant’s mutations may give the virus better transmissibility. It may also potentially evade immunity derived through natural infection and vaccination. – Source: Dr Richard Lessells | Health24

The variant would likely be named Nu — the next available letter in the Greek alphabet naming system for coronavirus variants — if it is flagged by the WHO group … SOURCE. 

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