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South Africa detects new variant of Covid-19

South African scientists have detected a new variant of COVID-19 and are conducting experiments to understand its implications.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Thursday that it has found 22 cases of variant B.1.1.529 following genomic sequencing.

“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,” the statement quoted the NICD’s Professor Adrian Puren as saying.

South Africa was the first country to report the cases of the Beta variant last year. Beta is one of only four labelled “of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) because there is evidence that it is more contagious and vaccines are less effective against it.

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