The man who identified the new variant says the virus is now more contagious than ever. Professor tullio de oliveira warns. Complacency will lead to a third or even fourth wave. As we see the decrease on peak. We go back to be complacent if we are complacent and we cannot stop completely transmitting of this virus. We are likely to see a third or fourth wave and i would not be surprised with more virus that are better adapted for transmission and evade the immune response. Other thing that we are very worried, it is what’s happened in our neighboring countries in the sadak region and it’s very important that we work through the african union and the africa cdc to also support them with both genomic surveillance, but also to increase the access to Hospital beds and oxygens because a lot of our neighboring countries, they have much less resource than us now, while scientists are hard at work to understand the new covert 19 variant that has emerged in south africa, professor saleem abdul karim says that this new strain is a Cause for concern, but we’re now seeing more cases and deaths than we ever saw on any day during the first wave. Karim explains how the 501y v2 variant is highly transmissible. Let me start with what kicked off my deepest concerns. It turned out that on boxing day i was going up to watch the cricket match and because i got there early and the cricket hadn’t started, i said well i’ll just check my emails and of course i did that, and that was a mistake because what comes Up is this paper by fratev in this paper and as i’m reading it, and i look at the 501 and the 417 mutations, and i see what he found.

They were doing doing studies or using free energy perturbation. He showed how these amino acids, which have changed, which lead to changes in the charge and the shape of the protein. He showed how the binding of the virus to the human cell had changed significantly. In particular, what he noted is that the virus and the spike protein now rotates about 20 degrees so that it’s able to approach more deeply into the binding site so that its affinity and its ability to bind to the human cell is now stronger and that’s. What enables it to become a more efficient virus in the way it transmits and we’re, seeing that we see it in the number of the the proportion of tests that are positive. On the left hand, side is the daily average number of tests that are being performed and, on the right hand, side is the proportion of tests that are positive. You can see we went to a high of almost 32 percent, almost one out of three tests being positive higher than we ever had in the first wave and now we’re, slowly starting to see how it’s coming down, but last week, being at 27 and this week, It’S still an incomplete week, we’re now seeing up closer to 23. So what is the new covet 19 variant and how and why did it mutate infectious disease as specialist richard lasalles, explains as the virus passes through from person to person and replicates within each of our bodies? You get errors in the genetic code and this is what’s called a mutation, so it’s just a change in the letter within the within the rna code.

Now most of these changes are innocuous. They don’t lead to any change in the amino acid and no change in the in any of the virus proteins, but some of them they change the amino acid and therefore change the protein, and they may be able to change the structure of the protein or the Function of one of the virus proteins and professor abdul karim highlighted that when we first noticed this variant, the 501 yv2 there were a number of things that were striking about it in the genetic data. So first of all was just the number of genetic mutations that there were was much greater than the other viruses that we were detecting in the country. The second thing was that most of the mutations were causing a change in the protein, and the third thing was that a large number of the mutations were in the spike protein of the virus. And again, professor abdul karim highlighted how important the spike protein is because that’s the bit of the virus that latches on to the receptors on our cells inside our body and that also the antibodies kind of latch on to to block from binding to the receptor. Well. Over 4 000 south africans have been reinfected with the covet 19 virus, but scientists are still investigating how reinfection works. The analysis that we had is that, as of the 6th of january with this, you know analysis we had more than 4 000 potential reinfections, which therefore says to us.

We are getting the infections, and we – and this actually confirms the data that we already know that we do have the infections. What we don’t know is who actually gets the infections? What drives the infections – and these are some of the you know tonight – is some of the uh trying to understand why we’re getting the infections might be because of the new variant or not. Now the quest second question was the reinfections: are these increasing with a new variant when we analyze the data, and up to today i mean up to the 6th of january? We really have seen a constant risk of free infections, which means we have not seen a market increase, except for the numbers that would have been seen as eloquently. You know a mentioned by slim, apart from the increased numbers of infections, who are not necessarily seeing an increase in the risk of infection. So so far we are able to say there is no evidence that suggests that the risk of infection is increasing as a result of the new variant, but bear in mind. We are only talking a month, you know so far.

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