The mutation is easier to penetrate and is more firmly held in human cells, the scientists concluded. At the same time, the virus spreads faster by about 50%, they say.
In December, the coronavirus strain that appeared in South Africa is more aggressive and infectious, said the country’s chief epidemiologist, Salim Abdula Karim, citing research. Reuters report his words.
The new strain, dubbed 501.V2, penetrates human cells more quickly and holds onto them more firmly, scientists have found. As a result, the virus is about 50% more infectious than previous mutations, the epidemiologist said.
South African authorities announced the discovery of a new type of coronavirus at the end of December. It was with the new mutation that the second wave of the pandemic was associated in the country. In December, South African Health Minister Zveli Mhize said that more young patients were being admitted to hospitals, who are being hospitalized in critical condition due to COVID-19. He also reported that coronavirus’s new strain is spreading faster, but there is no cause for panic due to the mutation.
According to Johns Hopkins University, South Africa has the highest number of infected and deaths due to coronavirus among all African countries – 1.34 million and 37.4 thousand, respectively.
A strain of coronavirus from South Africa was found in European countries, particularly in Denmark and France and in Japan, the United States, and some African countries.
The discovery of unique mutations in the coronavirus was also reported in December in the UK, Kenya, and Nigeria. The chief sanitary doctor of England, Chris Whitty, said that the new strain is transmitted 70% faster but does not lead to a more severe disease course.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has called the new mutations of the coronavirus the challenge of 2021. WHO is working with scientists worldwide to understand how the coronavirus mutates and how this affects its infectiousness and mortality, he said.