The British variant of the coronavirus is believed to be circulating in at least 50 countries, according to the latest count from the World Health Organization (WHO). The variant identified in South Africa is also being followed closely. It is currently circulating in 20 countries. A third mutation has also been spotted in Japan. It could impact the immune response and needs to be studied further, said the WHO, which in its weekly bulletin mentions “a worrying variant”.
“The more the Sars-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate,” says the WHO. “High levels of contamination mean that we should expect more variants to emerge. “Sars-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for Covid-19 disease. First reported to the WHO on December 14, the British variant VOC 202012/01 has been found in 50 countries, territories and areas, the UN agency said.
The more transmissible South African variant, according to the WHO
The test results show a distribution by age and sex similar to that of the other variants in circulation. Data from contact tracing reveals “greater transmissibility where the reference case is of the variant strain”. The South African identified variant 501Y.V2, first reported on December 18, has now been detected in 20 countries, territories and areas.
“From preliminary and ongoing investigations in South Africa, it is possible that the 501Y.V2 variant is more transmissible than the variants that previously circulated in South Africa,” said WHO in its bulletin published Tuesday evening.
“Furthermore, while this new variant does not appear to cause a more severe form of the disease, the rapid increase in the number of cases observed has put health systems under pressure. ”
The extent of the geographical spread of the two variants is probably underestimated, adds the WHO, due to a bias linked to the fact that they were discovered in countries with a capacity for sequencing the virus.