GENEVA – World Health Organization advisers are holding a special session on Friday to provide information about a worrying new version of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though a top expert says there is no need to discuss COVID-19 vaccines. Its effect cannot be known. for weeks.

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The Technical Advisory Group on the Development of COVID-19 was meeting virtually to discuss the so-called version B.1.1.1.529, which rattled stock markets and prompted the EU to recommend halting flights to southern Africa. inspired to.

The group can decide whether it is “anxiety type” – the most worrying type, such as the well-known delta variant – or “interest type”, and whether to use the Greek letter to classify it.

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“We don’t know a lot about it, yet. What we do know is that there are a large number of mutations in this variant, and the concern is that when you have so many mutations it will affect it.” How the virus behaves,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical chief on COVID-19, said in a social-media chat on Thursday.

He said less than 100 complete genome sequences of the variant are available so far.

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“It will take a few weeks for us to understand how this variant affects any potential vaccines, for example,” Van Kerkhove said.

When reached by phone, Dr. Anurag Agarwal, chairman of the advisory group, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi, said it was too early to comment on the variant. He said more data was needed before it could be added to the already available information.

“It’s one to watch. I would say we worry, but I think you want us to worry,” Van Kerkhove said. “We have people who are on it.”

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Anirudh Ghoshal contributed to this report from New Delhi.