UPDATED 8:32 AM PT – Friday, November 26, 2021
An alleged new variant of COVID-19 is found in South Africa amid media claims of rising cases ahead of the Christmas holiday season. In a statement Thursday, the South African Health Ministry said the new variant was first found in Hong Kong and Botswana among airline passengers from the rainbow nation.
Scientists have said the new variant has a “constellation of new mutations,” but it’s unclear how infectious it is. This comes after the Delta variant went into “self-extinction” in Japan due to multiple mutations.
“Everyone that gets infected with the same viruses that transmitting and have the numbers to transmit to the population…and that it is at the moment what we should be focusing at,” stated Professor Tulio De Oliveira, Director of South African Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation. “Not really on the origin of the variants, we will never know if the origins originate in South Africa, neighboring country or someone that arrived by plane.”
We are working around the clock to understand effects on 1) Transmissibility, 2) vaccines, 3) Re-infection, disease severity, and diagnostics. We do have funding for science, but South Africa and Africa need financial help to support their deprived population and health system.
— Tulio de Oliveira (@Tuliodna) November 25, 2021
Mainstream media is already claiming the new variant is “the worst ever” despite the lack of data on its transmissibility.