The World Health Organization (WHO) will hold a special and urgent meeting on Friday to discuss the new variant found in South Africa, CNBC reported.
Called B.1.1.529, the new variant has various mutations to the virus’ spike protein which could make it resist all available COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
South African scientists detected at least 30 mutations in the spike protein of the virus, according to scientist Tulio de Oliveira.
WHO official Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said: “We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.”
Until now, the B.1.1.529 was detected in two other countries: Botswana, and Hong Kong, so more concerns were raised regarding its global emergence, according to the South African Ministry of Health.
Therefore, several countries started taking certain measures to stop the arrival of the new concerning variant, for example, the UK announced banning flights from six African countries, including South Africa.
It is expected that WHO would categorize the B.1.1.529 as a variant of interest, and name it with one of the Greek alphabet letters such as the previously observed Lambda, Mu, Delta, and others.