On a Scientific Panel Discussion digital webinar which was broadcasted live yesterday, January 18th, 2021, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health of South Africa, together with other leading experts in the country, focused their talk on the South Africa COVID-19 variant, they call the 501.V2.
According to Mkhize, it was previously postulated that the said variant may be driving the increased transmission observed in the second wave in the country. Thus, in the digital webinar, experts have revealed that the new variant is more contagious, but no evidence shows that it is more deadly.
“This virus is spreading about 50% faster. Current data suggests the new variant is not more severe and the published convalescent serum studies suggest that natural antibodies are less effective.”
– Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19
Binding to Human Cell Changed Significantly
“We saw in November, 23 mutations in the face of a virus that had been quite stable. What we have seen is not just that this virus has mutations, but it has systematically spread. It has been spreading across our entire coastal region,” said Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
“What we saw is how it quickly came to dominate all the sequences we were doing. In our latest data from KwaZulu-Natal, 59 out of the 61 sequences came up with the new variant. It is now the predominant virus spreading in our midst,” the professor added.
Karim noted that the binding of the virus to the human cell had changed significantly.
“The virus and the spike protein now rotates about 20 degrees so that it’s able to approach more deeply into the binding site. So that its affinity and its ability to bind to the human cell is now stronger. And that’s what enables it to become a more efficient virus in the way it transmits,” he further explained.
Karim also revealed in the digital webinar that the second wave in South Africa is faster than the first.
Watch the South Africa Scientific Panel Discussion
For More News and Updates