New Coronavirus variant has been detected

The heavily mutated variant originated from South Africa and has led to a fresh bout of travel restrictions.


By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: In a shocking turn of events, a new variant of the Coronavirus has been detected and it is said to have higher rates of re-infection. The variant, known as Omicron, has been listed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, and other than a new bout of travel bans multiple studies have begun to monitor the new Coronavirus variant. Here’s what we know about the new Coronavirus variant.

 

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The new Coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa, Hong Kong, Belgium, and Botswana. However, it was first detected in South Africa, where less than 36% of its adult population is fully vaccinated. The virus then spread from South Africa to Hong Kong through a traveler. Then it was reported that was unvaccinated Egyptian traveler was detected with the variant in Belgium marking the first case in Europe.

 

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As per the studies carried out by South African scientists, Omicron has a usually high number of mutations which means that the new Coronavirus variant is more transmissible and has chances of immune evasion. However, it isn’t completely confirmed whether the variant can evade immunity. Some researchers are confident that the new variant will not render vaccines useless but say only time will tell.

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In a news release, Moderna said it was rapidly working to test the ability of its vaccine to neutralize the variant, and data is expected in the coming weeks. Moderna also revealed that it was testing an Omicron-specific booster. AstraZeneca also said it was researching the impact Omicron has on its vaccine and is testing an antibody treatment, AZD7442, against the variant.

 

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With the detection of the new Coronavirus variant, there have been travel bans enforced in order to curb the spread of the virus. The travel ban in the US and the one enforced by the EU include South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Mozambique.

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