Scientists on Thursday revealed that the Covid-19 variant that was initially identified in the UK has been discovered in South Africa.
The UK variant, known as 501Y.V1, was discovered in December last year and is said to be more transmittable by at least 50%.
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Professor Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) at UKZN’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, confirmed that the B.1.1.7 (501Y.V1) has been discovered in South Africa.
The Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) would like to report the first genome of B.1.1.7 (501Y.V1) in South Africa. We are finalizing the assembly of the genome and will deposit soon at GISAID. This was produced by the Stellenbosch University and NHLS.
— Tulio de Oliveira (@Tuliodna) January 28, 2021
The UK variant has been identified in more than 60 countries around the world, and the SA variant – B. 1.351 (501Y.V2) – has been identified in at least 22 countries.
While the 501Y.V2 variant – which emerged in South Africa during the latter part of October last year – is 50% more transmissible than older variants, there is no evidence it causes a more severe form of Covid-19 according to a group of scientists, including Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19.
The variant came to dominate all other sequences and became the dominant virus spreading throughout the country, Karim said.
The second wave of SARS-CoV-2 cases being experienced in South Africa through December and into January 2021 has been far worse, with more cases and more deaths being seen when compared to the peak of the first wave in July 2020.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe, additional reporting News24Wire