New strain of coronavirus already in Europe

A patient with a new South African strain of COVID-19 arrived from Egypt to Belgium in transit through Turkey. Belgian virologist Mark Van Ranst reports:

“Belgium has confirmed a case of the new variant B.1.1.529 in a passenger returning from Egypt. The first symptoms were detected on 22 November.”

Frank Vandenbroek, Belgium’s Minister of Health, has confirmed the country’s first case of a new variant of the coronavirus. But he stressed that there is no information yet on whether it is more infectious and dangerous than Delta.

Earlier, our publication reported that British scientists announced on November 24 a new strain of coronavirus titled B.1.1.529. It is potentially more dangerous than all others, as it contains the largest number of mutations. Scientists warn about the risk of its spread. Now 10 cases of the “newest” strain have been found – in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. Experts suggest that it is more resistant to the vaccine. According to experts, this option may be worse than all others, including the now dominant strain in the world “Delta”.

The new variant contains 32 mutations, some of which indicate its high transmissibility and resistance to vaccines, and also has more changes in the spike protein than all other COVID-19 variants. François Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, believes the new strain is likely to evade antibodies better than delta does. An outbreak of mutations suggests that B.1.1.529 could have appeared in a person with a weakened immune system (for example, a patient with HIV or AIDS).

An urgent WHO meeting has been announced for 26 November. Representatives of the organization intend to discuss the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, found in South Africa.

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