With more than 30 mutations, unpredictable and more contagious: this is the South African variant of Covid that triggers all the alarms in Europe

With more than 30 mutations, unpredictable and more contagious: this is the South African variant of Covid that triggers all the alarms in Europe
with more than 30 mutations, unpredictable and more contagious: this

The expert committee for new pathogens of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been meeting urgently all morning because of him, and the European Commission has already proposed to stop all traffic from the southern region of Africa to try to stop his arrival in the Old Continent. The person responsible for this commotion is a new variant of Covid-19 identified as B.1.1.529 or variant Nu, which is of particular concern to scientists because it has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, what would potentially make it more contagious and difficult for our body to fight, as explained by El País.

According to data shared by the director of the South African Epidemic Response Center, this variant spreads very quickly, dominating all infections in just two weeks. In addition, you have specified that it already represents 75% of the genomes analyzed in the African country, for which he has described it as “really worrying”.

However, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases of South Africa, the institution that first detected this variant on November 22, points out that, despite Nu’s allegedly greater aggressiveness, current vaccines are quite likely to continue to offer high levels of protection in front of her.

At the moment, many scientists, including those who spotted it in South Africa, are wary. This variant is potentially dangerous, but may not become as contagious and virulent as anticipated. It has happened before. Others, however, set off alarms: Dr Susan Hopkins, an adviser to the UK Health and Safety Agency and a leading epidemiologist at Imperial College London, has told the BBC that is the most worrying variant to date.

An important factor to consider is that only 24% of South African citizens are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, so transmission in this population is much easier than in countries where more than 70% of people have the complete pattern.

Alarms are sounding in Europe

Therefore, preliminary data suggests that it could be potentially dangerous, but there is not enough information to know if it really is. At least public. That is why it is striking that the European institutions, the WHO and some countries of the Old Continent have rushed to hold emergency meetings and request the suspension of flights, generating a climate of tension that already seemed forgotten. Even the main stock exchanges in Europe have taken the hit and have plummeted.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has rushed to declare that the new variant is of great concern to the European institutions and has proposed that the Member States coordinate within the framework of the European Union to close air traffic from the southern regions of Africa.

The WHO, for its part, yesterday convened a emergency meeting of your expert committee for new pathogens who has been analyzing the data from the Nu variant together with South African scientists all Friday.

At the state level, Germany has already said that from tonight it will not allow the entry of people from South Africa, except in the case that they are German citizens. Italy has banned the entry into the country of people who have been to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Zombaue, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini in the last 14 days. And similar measures have been adopted by Austria, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Israel, according to eldiario.es.

The Spanish Government, for its part, will decide next Tuesday in the Council of Ministers if you follow the example of other countries in Europe and it prohibits the entry of people who have been in that region of Africa in recent weeks, according to the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, in statements to Spanish Television.

The Government of South Africa, for its part, consider these measures hasty given the lack of information that is still available on this variant, as reported by the EFE Agency.