SAfrican experts say it will take “weeks and weeks” to see if the most mutated Covid-19 variant ever discovered has the ability to bypass Western vaccines.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, former chairman of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, told The Telegraph it would take weeks to see if Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines would defend themselves against the new B.1.1.529 -variant.
The highly contagious variant, has the double number of mutations of the Delta variant and is currently driving an explosion of cases in the region around Johannesburg, the commercial capital of South Africa.
Late Thursday night, Britain put six South African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – on a renewed red list, saying it would stop flights on Friday until a system was put in place to put passengers in quarantine.
Israel quickly followed suit and suspended all travel to and from South Africa. On Friday, the EU said it would propose banning travel from southern Africa.
The new variant, which will probably be named ‘Now’, was first discovered in Botswana, but cases have been discovered in Hong Kong. Researchers say it’s almost exclusively behind an explosion of cases in southern Africa’s Gauteng province last week.
Peta Thornycroft and Will Brown have more details on this story here