Sunday, April 2, 2023

WHO holds special meeting on alarming new COVID-19 variant

GENEVA (AP) – World Health Organization advisers are holding a special meeting on Friday to flesh out information on an alarming new variant of the coronavirus that has been found in South Africa, although a leading expert says its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for a while. several weeks.

The COVID-19 Evolution Technical Advisory Group met virtually to discuss the so-called B.1.1.529 option, which drove stock markets down and prompted the European Union to recommend a suspension of flights to southern Africa.

The group could decide if it was a “variant of concern” – the type of most concern, like the well-known variant of the delta – or a variant of interest, and whether to use the Greek letter to classify it.

“We don’t know much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations, and there are concerns that when you have that many mutations it could affect the behavior of the virus, ”said Maria Van Kerkhov, WHO technical lead for COVID-19. … chatting on social networks on Thursday.

Less than 100 complete genomic sequences for this variant are currently available, she said.

“It will take us several weeks to understand what impact this option has on, for example, any potential vaccines,” said Van Kerkhove.

In a phone call, chairman of the advisory group, Dr. Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi, said it was too early to comment on the option. He said more data is needed before he can add to the information already available.

“This is one of those worth looking at. I would say that we have concerns, but I think you would like us to be worried, ”said Van Kerkhove. “We have people doing this.”

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Aniruddha Ghosal contributed to this report from New Delhi.

Nation World News Desk
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