COVID-19: Everything you need to know about vaccinating people under 18 years of age

Scientists and health authorities in South Africa confirmed this Thursday the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus, identified as B.1.1.529, which has multiple mutations and which has aroused “concern” among specialists, although its impact has yet to be studied.

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The new variant features “A very unusual constellation of mutations”, but his “Meaning is still uncertain”, explained in a virtual press conference Professor Tulio de Oliveira, from the Platform for Innovation in Research and Sequencing of KwaZulu-Natal (KRISP, a scientific institution in eastern South Africa).

In total, so far, cases of this variant have been confirmed in South Africa, Hong Kong (in a traveler from the African nation) and neighboring Botswana, according to data provided by the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

In total, the B.1.1.529 It has more than thirty mutations and some of them are, according to South African scientists, a cause for concern due to their possible impact on transmissibility and their potential ability to evade previous immunity or protection.

“The variant surprised us, it has a great evolutionary leap, many more variants than we expected, especially after a third wave of very severe delta (variant)”, said Oliveira.

“We could potentially see this variant expand very quickly.”, lamented this specialist, based on data collected in the South African province of Gauteng (where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located), where in recent days the number of cases of COVID-19 increased significantly.

The South African specialists emphasized, however, that the detection of this new variant has been carried out in a “Very, very early” and they were optimistic that this favors the control of their expansion.

In fact, the discovery of this variant occurred in an analysis on November 23, from samples taken between November 14 and 16 after an increase in the number of cases detected in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

“We didn’t want this to be around as a rumor.”, emphasized, for his part, the South African Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, at the same press conference.

Oliveira also indicated that they expect the World Health Organization (WHO) give this variant a new Greek letter name tomorrow, just like the rest; and stressed that, although the B.1.1.529 was first detected in South Africa, it does not necessarily mean that it originated in this southern country.

To date, South Africa has accumulated some 2.95 million cases of COVID-19 with about 90,000 deaths.

This southern nation is the epicenter of the pandemic within the African continent and has already suffered the effects of the discovery and expansion of another variant, the beta, during its second wave (between late 2020 and early 2021), which was later swept away by the delta variant in the third wave (mid-2021).

RELATED VIDEO

From this Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31, the vaccination process against COVID-19 will begin for adolescents between 15 and 17 years of age simultaneously throughout the country. The inoculation will be done by age groups to avoid crowds, announced the Minister of Health, Hernando Cevallos. In the following video, get to know all the details.

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