Ghana records South African variant of Covid-19 - Africa CDC confirms

Grant Boone
January 31, 2021

"The projection that is made with regard to the United Kingdom (variant) is that probably by the end of March, the beginning of April, it actually will become more dominant in this country", Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House news briefing on Friday.

South Africa plans to vaccinate more than 40 million people, or 67% of its population, in order to achieve "herd immunity" that would assist in slowing down the pandemic, the minister said.

The US has identified its third case of the more contagious coronavirus variant found in South Africa - this time in a man from Maryland.

It stated that over 175,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 6,200 deaths were reported in Africa in the last week, while infections rose by 50 per cent on the continent. The South African variant was identified in SC this week in two individuals with no apparent connection and no travel history.

The scientists say that this variant "carries a mutation identical to the U.K. strain", but that it plausibly came into existence from a genus already in existence in the United States.

In an interview with the Manhattan Connection program on TV Cultura, former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta stated that the coronavirus variant that emerged in Manaus could generate a mega-epidemic in Brazil in up to 60 days.

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In Manaus, a 29-year-old woman who caught the virus March later became infected with the newer variant in December, USA Today reported.

"The problem with a novel virus is it's got so much room to grow and shift and change to optimize itself", said Harvard School of Public Health's Dr. Michael Mina. "The question is how quickly is it going to keep updating itself?"

The latest evidence suggests that vaccines work against the variant - albeit slightly less effectively than against the original virus. It is also expected that the variant can be detected with existing tests.

Viruses constantly make copies of themselves as they spread, sometimes creating mutations that die out - and other times, evolving into ones that give it an edge.

"What we know right now is pretty reassuring".

Rolling out an updated vaccine would come with a slate of complications, like whether new trials would be necessary. "At least we now have some data on how they react to HIV-positive patients, but we need to get more scientific information", she said.

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