Concern: New COVID-19 Variant Emerges in Africa

By Natalia Pinzon.

The discovery of the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant has become an international concern. Starting tomorrow, all flights from seven African countries will be suspended by the UK. These countries will be added to the travel red list. The U.S. as well as the UAE (United Arab Emirates) will also restrict flights from these countries and Canada is evaluating the concern.

The new variant emerged in Africa and although its risks remain unknown, it’s considered the most heavily mutated version discovered so far. British Health Secretary Sajid Javid says that this version may be even more transmissible than the delta variant, and as a result, vaccines could be less effective.

The UK was the first country to identify the potential threat of this new variant and alert international partners. The UK Health Security Agency has designated it as a “variant under investigation.” Medical experts, including the WHO (World Health Organization) are warning everyone against overreaction before B.1.1.529 is better understood.

Streets in the UK after nearly two years of the COVID-19 emergency.

It has been almost two years since the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the globe, two years where we have been witnesses of a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, and that now, with the discovery of a new variant, may be threatening the population once again.

There are 77 fully confirmed cases of the new variant in Gauteng province in South Africa, four cases in Botswana and one in Hong Kong.

The WHO said it will take weeks to determine how effective the current vaccines are against the variant, but at the moment, it can be detected by a PCR test.

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