Scientists are working day and night to find the right vaccine to stop the spread of the virus, though coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in our lives. Meanwhile, according to the South African health minister, South Africa has identified a new strain of the virus, which is suspected to be behind the second wave of the outbreak. It hasn’t been long since a new strain of the virus was also detected in Britain, leading to an increase in the number of cases.
“We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus – currently termed 501.V2 Variant – has been identified by our genomics scientists here in South Africa,” South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize tweeted.
He also tweeted, “The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant,”
The largest number of coronavirus cases in Africa has been reported in South Africa – 900,000 cases and over 20,000 deaths. The increase in the number of cases resulted in the government tightening the quota.
On Friday, the World Health Organisation reported that it was in contact with the researchers from South Africa who discovered this new variant. The WHO added that there was no sign that the way the new virus strain acted was changing.
“We are working with them with our SARS-COV-2 Virus evolution working group. They are growing the virus in the country and they’re working with researchers to determine any changes in the behavior of the virus itself in terms of transmission,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said at a Geneva news conference.
The South African researchers said the latest version appears to be spreading more rapidly than the previous iteration. But it’s too early to say anything about its severity and whether it can be worked against by existing vaccinations.
It is said that both the latest varieties found in the UK and South Africa have quite a few similarities.