Rise of a new coronavirus variant in Africa looks like the disaster scenario experts warned of if rich nations hoarded vaccines for themselves

A man receiving a coronavirus vaccination on a train in South Africa.

A new coronavirus variant was found in southern Africa. Experts worry it could be the worst so far.
Scientist had warned that a dangerous new variant could emerge if there isn’t global vaccine access.
They said all countries need vaccines before wealthy ones get boosters. Rich nations didn’t listen.

As coronavirus vaccines were produced, approved, and rolled out, health experts said the doses needed to make it around the world, not just to the richest countries.

This was needed, they said, to reduce the rates of death and serious illness in poorer nations, and to protect their populations.

They also pointed to another reason: The more the virus spreads, the more likely it is to mutate, and result in a strain that could become more dangerous to everyone, including the vaccinated.

A worrying variant found

A new variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, has been mostly identified in Botswana and South Africa, as well as Hong Kong, where it was imported by a traveller.

A relatively small number of cases have been discovered so far, but the variant has been spreading rapidly, officials said.

—Tulio de Oliveira (@Tuliodna) November 25, 2021

Experts are describing B.1.1.529 as worrying, pointing to its high number of mutations — meaning it could render existing antibodies, vaccines, and treatments less effective, as Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported.

Scientists are currently trying to figure out if it’s more infectious, or more deadly, or both.

Many experts already say it’s the worst variant they have seen since the pandemic began.

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It’s not clear exactly where the new variant developed. It could have been in South Africa or Botswana, or in a neighboring country, or somewhere else entirely.

But both those countries have low vaccination rates, and have documented the struggle in securing doses, including accusing rich nations …read more

Source:: Businessinsider

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