Sunday, 24 January, 2021


Coronavirus variant found in South Africa worries scientists

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the variants discovered in Britain and South Africa according to a study LATEST: 314 new cases of Covid-19 in Kildare today; record 8248 cases nationwide
Patty Aguilar | 10 January, 2021, 01:38

The province added another 221 new cases and 9 more deaths, while Saskatchewan reported 336 infections and seven more fatalities.

This comes as a highly infectious strain of coronavirus which is linked to an explosion of Covid-19 in South Africa was confirmed here yesterday as the country suffered its darkest day for deaths since May.

According to the researchers themselves, their findings were consistent with results from tests on 15 other mutations in SARS-Cov-2 strains, the virus that provokes Covid-19.

Speaking on Friday, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan expressed particular concern about a Covid strain associated with South Africa.

Specifically, variant 20C/501Y.V2 - also known as B.1.351 lineage - which has emerged in Durban, South Africa, is alarming because the mutation of the virus is at the SARS-CoV-2 Spike, disguising its appearance to the immune system which can make it easier to bypass immune protection.

674 patients with a confirmed case of Covid-19 are hospitalised in the North, with 47 Covid-19 patients in ICU. This variant has been found in several USA states, but the variant first identified in South Africa has not yet been found in America.

A mutated form of COVID-19 first identified in South Africa is indeed more transmissible but, at this time, does not appear to cause more severe disease, an infectious disease expert who is helping to advise the country's health minister said.

Some US scientists have said they would back a delay in second doses, but the US has not altered how it administers its Covid-19 vaccine shots.

"The vaccine can become a backstop against these variants really getting more of a foothold in the United States but we need to quicken the pace of vaccination", the former FDA head said.

Dr Cillian De Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said a European Centre for Disease Control assessment found that preliminary analyses indicated that the South African variant was associated with a heightened viral load and may have increased transmissibility.

The remaining 2,097 cases are spread across the rest of the country, including 177 new infections diagnosed in Meath.

The news came as it was announced that, starting Saturday at 8 a.m., people entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will be required to isolate for two weeks.

1,180 patients with Covid are now being treated in hospital, with 109 in intensive care.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of the population now stands at 1162.2.

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