South Africa

LIVE FEED: Ministers host joint briefing on the latest Covid-19 variant findings

DURBAN – HEALTH Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blaze Nzimande, are hosting a joint webinar on the latest findings on the Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2.

Genomic research has proved to be a potent tool in the fight against Covid-19. Investigations by South African genomic scientists into the evolutionary characteristics Sars-CoV-2 resulted in the detection of the new variant.

The government has been working hand-in-hand with local scientists at the KwaZulu-Natal research informatics and sequencing programme (Krisp).

Krisp is the first in the world to uncover the findings, showing that the 501Y.V2 variant has a number of mutations on its spike protein, which increases the efficacy of the virus to infect humans and potentially posing problems of vaccine escape.

This work is continuing through the Department of Science and Innovation, and the department allocated Krisp R25 million over the next 12 months to complete the sequencing of 10 000 Sars-CoV-2 genomes in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

The briefing hopes to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of increased transmissibility – which is increasingly supported by data – and if there is any evidence of increased pathogenicity, a different disease profile/progression, or whether reinfection can occur.

Scientists from Krisp have been meeting with the world's top scientists every two weeks to discuss the evolution of Sars- CoV-2 lineages. The centre has been sequencing Sars‐CoV‐2 genomes locally and sharing its findings.

As per the latest from the Health Ministry, South Africa's cumulative Covid cases stand at 1 514 815 with 856 new cases recorded yesterday.

The death toll now stands at 50 271 while recoveries are at 1 433 320 which translates to a recovery rate of 94.6%.


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