The new variant of the coronavirus, first identified in South Africa, is more contagious than earlier versions, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly.
The new variant is 50% more infectious, said epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdul Karim, co-chair of the health ministry’s scientific committee.
The South African variant of coronavirus 501Y.V2, discovered at the end of 2020, binds more easily and firmly to human cells, making it more infectious, he said. At the same time, Abdula Karim did not confirm that the new strain is causing a more severe course of the disease.
The South African authorities announced on December 21 that the second wave of the pandemic that began in the country was caused by the mutation of the coronavirus 501.V2. The mutated virus was discovered last October in the south of the country in Nelson Mandela Bay County in the Eastern Cape province on the Indian Ocean coast. According to local scientists, the new strain mainly affects young people.
Epidemiologist Abdul Karim said it is not yet known whether the developed vaccines are effective against the new variant of the virus: studies are currently underway.