Scientists are monitoring a new Covid-19 variant with an “extremely high number” of mutations that has been detected in SA, Botswana and Hong Kong.
Only 10 cases have been confirmed in the three countries by genomic sequencing but there is concern that the number of mutations could enable the virus to evade immunity, reports The Guardian.
Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, posted details of the new variant on a genome-sharing website.
Peacock said the high number of spike mutations suggested the B.1.1.529 variant could be of concern but added that it could also be an “odd cluster” that was not very transmissible.
Scientists will monitor the variant to determine if it gains momentum.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 infections are on the rise in Gauteng, with more than 1,000 new cases recorded in the province in the past 24 hours.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Wednesday there were 1,018 new cases recorded in Gauteng in the past day. On Tuesday, there were 605.
In total across the country, there were 1,275 new cases.
University of KwaZulu-Natal geneticist Prof Tulio de Oliveira told the Sunday Times: “At present, there are early warning signs from the laboratory data that a fourth wave may be starting in Gauteng.”
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