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South Africa coronavirus variant 501.V2: What is the new variant? Is it more dangerous?

Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Jan 05: A new variant of coronavirus circulating in South Africa is now being seen in other countries, including the UK.

South African coronavirus variant 501.V2: What is the new variant? Is it more dangerous?

Scientists in South Africa are urgently testing to see if the vaccines for COVID-19 will be effective against the variant virus.

The 501.V2 variant, or simply 501.V2, is a variant of SARS-CoV-2-the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant was first detected in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa and reported by the country's health department on 18 December 2020.

How was it detected?

The new variant was uncovered by whole genome sequencing. Several genomic sequences from this lineage were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) sequence database.

South Africa COVID variant more infectious than UK strain

The South African variant, 501.V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in the country''s coastal areas. It is expected that the variant will quickly become dominant inland in Johannesburg, the country''s largest city, and the surrounding Gauteng province.

In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.

Why the South African coronavirus variant is so worrying?

  • On 23 December, British Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that two people who had travelled from South Africa to the UK were infected with 501.V2.
  • On 28 December, the variant had been detected in two individuals in Switzerland and in one individual in Finland.
  • On 29 December, the strain had been detected in a visitor from South Africa to Japan, and in one overseas traveller in Queensland, Australia.
  • On 30 December, the variant has been detected in Zambia.[19] On 31 December, it has also been detected in France, in a passenger returning from South Africa.
  • On 2 January 2021, the first case of this variant has been detected in South Korea.

What we don't kow so far:

Scientists are working to learn more about these variants, and more studies are needed to understand:

  1. How widely these new variants have spread
  2. How the new variants differ
  3. How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating

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