How dangerous is the Botswana Covid strain? Experts fear “vaccine resistance”.
It seems highly contagious. The other question is, will the vaccine protect against this variant?
Scientists have been concerned about the new variant of Covid, which is reportedly originating in southern Africa and forcing the UK and Israel to cancel flights from the region, but the US has yet to put travel restrictions in place. According to reports, the new strain – B.1.1.529 – was first found in Botswana.
In Hong Kong, two cases related to the new variant were reported after a passenger who had recently traveled from South Africa was found infected. Another person contracted the former while staying at the same quarantined hotel. Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, epidemiologist and senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists, said this strain appears more dangerous. He also suggested that a travel ban be imposed.
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The doctor continued, “It’s very air. The hotel guests were in different rooms across the hall. Environmental samples found the virus in 25 of 87 swabs in both rooms, “before adding,” I think border and travel restrictions make sense. Especially since Hong Kong only caught the case because of a mandatory hotel quarantine. Which countries in the west still have that ??? Almost nobody.”
Botswana has reported four confirmed cases of the new virus, which the World Health Organization could refer to as “Nu” in the near future. A total of 77 confirmed cases have been found in South Africa, but the real number has been said to be much higher – likely in the hundreds. There are also two confirmed positive cases in Hong Kong.
At a press conference for the South African Ministry of Health in Durban on Thursday November 25th, Richard Lessells, an infectious disease doctor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said: “We don’t understand a lot about this variant. The mutation profile worries us, but now we have to do the work to understand what this variant means and what it means in responding to the pandemic. “
Marc Siegel, professor of medicine at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, told Fox News: “I’ve said before – I’m not always as concerned about these types of concern, but this one, B 1.1.529, affects me. It has 32 mutations in the spike protein that the virus spreads to. And in the province around Johannesburg there were about 2,500 new cases last day, and they think – not yet proven – that this is the predominant variant. “
Siegel added, “It looks like it’s highly contagious. And that worries me, because the other variants that emerged had no chance against Delta because Delta is so contagious. The other question is, will the vaccine protect against this variant? Will the treatments protect against this variant? We’re keeping a very close eye on this. “
Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), endorsed Dr. Feigl-Ding for the travel ban, saying, “The B.1.1.529 variant has an unprecedented number of mutations in the spike protein gene, the protein that is the target of most vaccines. There is therefore a concern that this variant may have greater potential to evade earlier immunity than previous variants. It is also worrying that this variant appears to be causing a rapid increase in the number of cases in South Africa. The government’s move to restrict travel to South Africa is therefore prudent. However, we do not yet have any reliable estimates as to the extent to which B.1.1.529 could be either more transmissible or more resistant to vaccines, so that it is still too early to be able to provide an evidence-based risk assessment. “
But Stanford health policy professor Jay Bhattacharya was against travel restrictions when he said, “Given the portability of the Nu variant, I don’t think a travel stop will ultimately be effective in preventing the variant from arriving. COVID is a global pandemic. No country can isolate itself forever, and stopping travel is damaging the kind of international cooperation we need to end the pandemic. It would be better if the international community provided the affected areas with sufficient vaccines. “
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director on Covid-19, said at a virtual press conference: “The concern is that so many mutations can have an impact on how the virus behaves. It will take a few weeks for us.” to understand the impact this variant has on potential vaccines. “It may therefore be too early to talk about symptoms of this variant. The new variant is likely to have developed during a chronic infection of an immunocompromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV / AIDS patient said Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute.