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New covid version with ‘unusual’ mutation focus of WHO meet

Officials said South Africa has detected 22 cases of the new variant (Representational)

World Health Organization officials met on Thursday to discuss a new coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa and Botswana.

The new variant, called B.1.1529, contains an unusually large number of mutations, said François Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, in a statement published by the Science Media Center. This is more likely to develop during the course of a chronic infection of an immune-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient, he said.

“It is difficult to estimate how permeable it may be at this stage,” Mr Balloux said. “For the time being, this will need to be closely monitored and analyzed, but there is no reason to be overly concerned, unless the frequency starts to increase in the near future.”

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement that South Africa has detected 22 such cases.

“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” NICD Executive Director Adrian Pooran said in the statement. “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all installed monitoring systems to understand the new version and what the potential impacts may be. Development is happening at a rapid pace and we have assurances to the public that we will keep them. Will keep till date.”

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said it would meet with South African officials next week to discuss a new version in the country.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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