Global health officials are raising concerns after a new type of coronavirus was discovered in South Africa.

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The variant, currently known as B.1.1.529, reportedly has a significant number of mutations that could enable it to evade immunity.


according to The Guardian, only 10 cases of the variant have been found in three countries. It was first seen in Botswana, before being found in South Africa and then in Hong Kong in a traveler returning from South Africa.

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“This is worrying and I haven’t said so since Delta,” tweeted Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “Please vaccinate and promote it and wear masks in public as mutations in this virus can result in high levels of neutralizing antibodies.”

A COVID variant that harbors resistance may be more able to trick the immune systems of people who have either already caught the virus once or have been vaccinated against it.

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