Sumary of Explainer: What is the new B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant?:
- Across the globe, several countries are halting flights from South Africa as ministers and scientists become “deeply concerned” about a fast-spreading coronavirus variant.
- 1.1.529 COVID-19 variant has sparked worldwide concern, with Britain saying that its was considered by scientists to be the most significant one yet found, even more so than the highly-infectious delta variant.
- Nearly 100 sequences of the variant have been reported, and early analysis shows it has “a large number of mutations” requiring further study, according to the World Health Organization on Friday.
- Currently, the full significance of the new variant is not yet known.
- There are thousands of different types, or variants, of COVID-19 circulating across the world.
- Delta has become the dominant variant in many countries, such as the UK, where it is considered a “variant of concern.
- The European Union’s executive also said Friday it wants to stop air travel from southern Africa to counter the spread of the new variant.
- EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement that she “proposes, in close coordination with the member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region.