A newly developed Corona-virus strain with a significant number of mutations has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to convene a special emergency meeting, set to discuss how to address the evolved variant.
The global health body’s technical head on Covid-19, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, announced the upcoming meeting during a live streamed Q&A session, saying experts would gather to talk about the new strain, which has now been detected in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.
The variant has already been observed to have “a large number of mutations,” raising questions and concerns over how that will impact diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccinations.
As researchers continue to look into the strain, Van Kerkhove said it could take several weeks before enough insight is gained into the impact of the B.1.1.529 strain.
The WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, pointed to “a number of worrying mutations in the spike protein” of the South African variant, referring to the biological mechanism that allows the Corona-virus to penetrate host cells and cause infection.
A professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University, Ravi Gupta said his lab work identified two specific mutations in the new strain that could increase infectivity and reduce antibody recognition.
Reacting to the WHO’s comments on the new Covid-19 strain, the British government temporarily suspended flights to six African nations, with Sajid Javid, secretary of state for health and social care, calling the move a precautionary measure.
Israel also said it would bar travelers from South Africa and other countries on the African continent. Van Kerkhove said the fact the variant was detected is itself a good sign, as it was quickly identified resulting to tackle new, potentially dangerous mutant strains.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2021.