New Delhi | Jagran World Desk: South Africa has detected a new COVID-19 variant in the country with over 30 spike mutations, news agency AFP reported quoting scientists. This comes at a time when the world has begun to witness a drop in the Coronavirus cases and the vaccination drive is also at its pace.

"Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa," virologist Tulio de Oliveira said at a news conference.

Currently, data on the new variant is being analyzed and more information will be released after the meeting of African health authorities with their counterparts, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director, John Nkengasong, said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The new Covid-19 variant has a large number of mutations according to scientists. It has been reported in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong, the Independent reported earlier. The variant has been named B.1.1529. It is also called Botswana variant because of being first reported there. It is an offshoot of another variant called B.1.1. as per the London-based newspaper.

Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, listed the details of the new variant on a genome-sharing website. He noted that the “incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern”.

He wrote “Export to Asia implies this might be more widespread than sequences alone would imply. Also, the extremely long branch length and incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern."

As of now, only four variants of the coronavirus are called variants of concern. They include Alpha, lineage B.1.1.7, also called ‘UK variant’, Beta, lineage B.1.351, also called ‘South Africa variant’, Gamma, lineage P.1, also called called ‘Brazil variant’ and Delta, lineage B.1.617.2.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha