Saturday, December 19, 2020

Severe COVID variant detected in South Africa, health minister says

 Newly identified strain of coronavirus driving surge in younger patients with more serious symptoms.

Funeral home workers carry the coffin of a woman who died from COVID-19 near Johannesburg, South Africa, July 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

AFP News

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A severe variant of the coronavirus has been detected in South Africa which could explain the rapid spread of a second wave that affects younger people, the health minister said Friday.

Known as the 501.V2 Variant, it was identified by South African researchers and details have been sent to the World Health Organization, Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement.

A team led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), has sequenced hundreds of virus samples since the pandemic began, and “noticed that a particular variant has increasingly dominated the findings of the samples collected in the past two months,” he added.

South African doctors have remarked that more patients are younger, and do not always have other conditions that amplify the virus’ effect, but are nonetheless suffering from more severe forms of COVID-19.

That “strongly suggests that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant,” Mkhize concluded.  Read more >>