MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Epidemiologists in South Africa have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that may be fueling the second wave in the country although changes in transmission behavior have not yet been substantiated.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said at a briefing that anecdotal evidence suggests a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture whereby more younger patients are becoming infected with the critical illness.
The chairman of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Salim Abdool Karim, said the strain, dubbed the 501.V2 variant, was likely behind the acceleration in transmissions but that it was yet unclear whether the new strain was contributing to increased fatalities.
New strains of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been discovered around the world. Studies suggest that a mutation of the virus in the first outbreak in Wuhan, China, made it more contagious and fueled its global spread. As was reported earlier, South Africa, along with six European states, the Faroe Islands and the US, have reported mink-related coronavirus mutations, confirming the transmission of the coronavirus from minks to humans.
South Africa is the most highly-infected country in Africa, with just over 900,000 cases registered and at least 24,285 deaths.