WHO Calls Special Meeting Due to New ‘Heavily Mutated’ COVID Variant

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WHO Calls Special Meeting Due to New ‘Heavily Mutated’ COVID Variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called a special conference for Friday to investigate a newly discovered and “heavily mutated” strain of COVID-19 that could evade vaccine and prior infection-based immunity.

The symposium will explore the implications of the variant, known as B.1.1.529, for vaccines, diagnostics, new symptoms, and pharmaceutical therapy. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, made the announcement during a WHO livestream, according to CNBC.

If the WHO’s virus evolution working group determines that the variant is of interest and has the potential to spread, it will be given a Greek name, according to Van Kerkhove.

The mutation was found in ten cases in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong, according to The Guardian.

Van Kerkhove added, “We don’t know anything about this [variant]yet.” “What we do know is that there are a lot of mutations in this variation. And there’s a fear that having so many mutations will have an impact on how the virus acts.” The variation quickly expanded in Gauteng province in South Africa’s northeast, a landlocked region. Pretoria, the country’s executive capital, and Johannesburg, the country’s most populous metropolis, are both located in the province.

More than 30 mutations in the variant’s spike protein were discovered by South African researchers. The virus’s spike proteins allow it to connect to human cells, infecting them and allowing the virus to reproduce throughout the body.

The virus’s changes could make it more contagious or enable it to escape vaccines and previous infection immunity, according to a WHO briefing.

Scientists have never seen some of the alterations since they are so new. As a result, doctors are unsure how the mutations may alter the variant’s transmission or symptoms.

In a Wednesday night tweet, Greg Dore, an Australian infectious disease specialist, stated that the variant “includes mutations associated [with]lower vaccine effectiveness.”

He did say, though, that the mutation might not be very transmissible just yet. “Now is the moment to monitor, not panic,” he wrote in a tweet.

The new variety is “worrying,” according to Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

“I haven’t said [a variant is concerning]since Delta,” he says. This is a condensed version of the information.

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