After the United Kingdom, South Africa? A new variant of coronavirus detected in South Africa appears to be transmitted faster than older strains. A peculiarity that could explain the suddenness of the second wave in the country, argue the researchers who have identified it.
This discovery comes after a previous new variant, also more contagious, in the United Kingdom.
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A dominant variant for a month
“We believe, and all the elements point in this direction, that this variant is more transmissible“Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KRISP research institute backed by the University of Kwazulu-Natal, told AFP on 23 December.
The team of researchers, which has sequenced hundreds of samples from across the country since February, has noticed the appearance of a particular and dominant variant for more than a month. Basically, “80 to 90% genomes sequenced from the second half of November“presented this variant called 501.V2, details Tulio de Oliveira.
“We had never seen a single bloodline dominate like this“, neither”spread so fast“, he notes. Until then,”normally“, between 20 and 30 variants were circulating at the same time.
On December 23, South African Minister of Health Zwelini Mkhize announced more than 14,000 new cases in 24 hours, while the figures have fluctuated between 8,000 and 10,000 new infections daily in recent days.
With a test positivity rate of 26%, these figures “indicate that the virus continues to spread exponentially“,”much faster than during the first wave“, wrote the minister in a press release.
Already two cases in the UK
Two cases of this South African variant have been identified in the UK. British authorities, already plagued with a highly contagious variant, immediately instituted travel restrictions with South Africa.