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COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529: Here’s what we know

Scientists are working to determine the potential risks associated with the new COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529, which has already prompted an emergency meeting on Friday by the World Health Organization.

1- A team of scientists from seven universities in South Africa is working to learn more about the variant and are studying 100 whole genomes of the mutation.

2- The variant was first identified in Botswana earlier this month, but may have contributed to a jump in cases in South Africa.

3- The variant has a high number of spike mutations that could affect transmissibility and immune response, Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said.

4- The B.1.1.529 variant has been found in Botswana, Hong Kong and South Africa.

5- The new variant is considered the most significant one yet and scientists are working to see if it renders vaccines less effective. 

6- One scientist described the mutation as “horrific” in an interview with the BBC.

7-Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told the news outlet that the variant has an “unusual constellation of mutations.” For example, the Delta variant had two mutations to its receptor binding domain; this variant has 10, he said.

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8-There are anecdotal reports of cases in vaccinated people and reinfections, but health officials said more investigation is needed, Nature reported.

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9-The WHO is meeting on Friday to determine if the mutation is a variant of interest. The variant could be named, Nu.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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