Concerns over New Covid-19 strain found in Botswana

Concerned scientists have raised the alarm over a new Covid-19 variant with an “extremely high number” of mutations which could cause fresh chaos.

Fears are growing after a brand new Covid-19 strain which “could be of real concern” was detected by scientists.

The new variant was first picked up by Imperial College London virologist Dr Tom Peacock, who shared details on a genome-sharing website.

In a chilling warning, Peacock stated that the “incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern”, with cases so far found in three countries.

Those 32 spike mutations have virologists on high alert, as it means it could be harder for existing Covid vaccinations to combat the new strain.

The B.1.1529 variant – which is expected to be dubbed the Nu strain – was first detected in Botswana, southern Africa, on November 11.

Three days later it had spread to South Africa, before jumping to Hong Kong after a 36-year-old man who had recently visited South Africa tested positive in quarantine upon his return on November 13.

In his initial notes, Peacock stated that the fact the strain had spread to Asia “implies this might be more widespread than sequences alone would imply”, and that “the extremely long branch length and incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern”.

He also predicted the strain could “escape from most known monoclonal antibodies”, indicating it could potentially cause fresh outbreaks across the globe by dodging the body’s defences.

In a string of tweets, Peacock doubled down on his warning, insisting the variant “very, very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile”, and said he expected it “would be worse antigenically than nearly anything else about” – including the lethal Delta variant which has wreaked havoc across the world.

Source: New Zealand Herald