European and Asian governments were scrambling to impose new travel restrictions on Friday, fearing that a highly mutated coronavirus strain, first identified in Botswana, could prove resistant to the vaccine and possibly spread faster than previous variants.
The strain, called B.1.1.529, is “the the most disturbing that we have seen, âsaid Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for the UK Health and Safety Agency. It has a reproduction number of 2, which means that each sick person infects an average of two other people.
The variant spike protein, by which the virus attacks human cells, is different from the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019 with more than 30 mutations.
UK, Germany, Italy and Singapore Friday bans imposed at the entrance of South Africa and neighboring African States, and the European Commission proposes to Member States to activate the “”emergency stopÂ»Allowing a ban on air travel from the region.
the German biotechnology company that developed the Covid vaccine marketed by
said on Friday that it would take two weeks to assess whether his shot works against the B.1.1529 variant.
The two companies could produce a new vaccine suitable for any variant within six weeks and ship the injections within 100 days, BioNTech added.
UK Health Minister Sajiv Javid said in a speech to Parliament on Friday that the strain posed “substantial risks” to public health because it “may be more transmissible than the Delta variant”.
The World Health Organization must appointment friday to decide whether to classify the new variant as “of interest” or, more seriously, “of concern”.
Almost 100 sequences of the variant have been reported, and initial scans show that it contains “a large number of mutations” requiring further study, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said.
Around 100 cases of the variant had been officially identified in South Africa on Thursday, but according to a South African scientist, 90% of cases in the Gauteng region around Johannesburg are due to the new strain.
Officials from Hong Kong and Israel said they had previously identified cases of the new variant in travelers who had traveled to South Africa.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Friday that the country was “on the brink of a emergency state” as it imposed a ban on travel to and from most of Africa.
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