Another variant of coronavirus has been identified, this time the particle named B.1.1.529 seems to have a dangerous potential to generate a new wave of infections not only in its place of origin, South Africa but worldwide. According to the bioinformatics Túlio de Oliveira, a professor who directs gene sequencing institutions in two South African universities, this variant, still unnamed proposed, as happened with the delta variant of coronavirus, accumulated a large number of mutations that had not yet been identified before. South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla was concerned about the future this discovery could bring. According to him, a new wave of cases of coronavirus, the fourth in the country, may not only remain restricted to the African continent but again break international barriers.

Relationship between HIV and coronavirus

Around 100 cases have been linked to the new variant B.1.1.529 in Africa, being predominantly located in South Africa according to Anne von Gottberg, a clinical microbiologist and head of the department of respiratory diseases of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases but also in Botswana as reported Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force. An important relationship has been proposed to better understand the appearance of cases of the new African variant of coronavirus. The continent is the region with the highest number of HIV infection cases worldwide with about 8.2 million cases. Chronically infected individuals progressively present immunosuppression states and it is precisely at this point that the relationship with coronavirus is established. The accumulation of mutations is more observed in patients chronically infected with coronavirus, with immunosuppressed populations such as those infected with the HIV most vulnerable to the permanence of SARS-CoV2, says François Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute.

Fourth wave on the way?

A concern for the emergence of a fourth wave of infection on the African continent beckons closely with a key factor in the establishment, (or not) of new waves of coronavirus infections, vaccination. In contrast to countries on the European continent, which although it is presenting an increasing number of new cases of COVID-19 recently, already has on average 67% approximately 67% of people with a complete immunization scheme, either by Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, South Africa has rates of 35% of fully vaccinated adults, with even worse numbers in other regions that reach 6.6% said the Director of the CDC of Africa, John Nkengasong. The sad reality becomes even more serious when revealed the reason behind the low rates, the lack of demand despite the supply of vaccines. Figures show 45% of doses delivered yet to be administered. The health department even asked Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer Inc. to postpone new deliveries due to the drop in demand.

A high rate of new infections turns on red alert

With the emergence of the new variant of coronavirus, local authorities are beginning to have premonitions of what may be to come, a new crisis in the public health sectors, especially in hospital admissions. In just a few days the number of cases of COVID-19 rose 6.5%, from just under 900 to almost 2,500 records of coronavirus infection in populous regions of South Africa. Another 2000 cases have been recorded in places such as Johannesburg and Pretoria. According to Professor Tulio, 75% of infections comprise genomes of the new viral variant and this number is expected to only increase, repeating last year’s crisis period.

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