London: The World Health Organization (WHO) officials discussed a new coronavirus variant that is prevalent in South Africa and Botswana during a meeting on Thursday.
The new variant — B.1.1529 — has an unusually large number of mutations, Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, said via a Science Media Centre statement.
According to him, it’s likely to have evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.
“It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage,” Balloux was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
“For the time being, it should be closely monitored and analysed, but there is no reason to get overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future,” it said.
A total of 22 such cases have been detected in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said via a statement.
“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” NICD Acting Executive Director Adrian Puren was quoted as saying in the statement.
“Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date,” he said.