Connecticut expert examines Covid-19 variant found in South Africa – NBC Connecticut

Public health officials in South Africa are sounding the alarm on a new variant of the coronavirus which they say is responsible for the rapid spread of the virus among young people in the country’s most populous province.

This new variant, which the World Health Organization dubbed Omicron at a meeting on Friday, has many mutations in its structure, scientists say. Health officials are monitoring the coronavirus variants for these types of mutations, some of which, like the delta variant, are causing significant concern while others are disappearing.

Dr Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist and infectious disease system director at Hartford HealthCare, said it was too early to know what the impact of this new variant might be.

“Most mutations don’t really mean anything. But some mutations, when they are concerned, have to do with its level of transmissibility, its level of infectivity. Its ability to evade the immune system, its ability to evade treatment. or to vaccines, such as vaccinations or the monoclonal. So, like I said, a lot of mutations don’t really matter. And so we’ve definitely had a lot of variants that have, of which we certainly have been. worried in the past but ended up being nothing like the newer variants or, you know, so on. So and even the Delta variant had variants of itself that didn’t work out. So this South African variant, not much is known about it, “Wu explained.

A lack of vaccination globally means we should expect to continue to see variants, Wu said, and as new mutations occur they may be more transmissible or resistant to vaccines and current treatments.

News of the discovery of this variant has already sent shockwaves through the markets, raising concerns about demand for travel and other sectors that are still recovering from lockdowns and pandemic blows over the past 18 months or so.

Wu said he is currently more nervous about the impact of the more well-known delta variant and how the current behavior might affect the holiday season.

“We should be nervous about the one that is already there, namely the delta variants. Our vaccination rates are still terrible if you can, if you take a look outside you will see that the social distancing measures and masking are you know, they’re pretty variable at this point. And so we’re doing pretty well as a state, you know, our state is doing pretty well on masking, but if you’re traveling to other states, you know, just across the border like New Hampshire, some of the southern states, the Midwest, the masking is mostly non-existent, ”Wu said.

“And then we also know that the vaccination rates are quite low and not at all close to where we need to get it. So yes we should be worried but not about this new variant we should be worried. about creating a new variant. And we should also be worried about the already present variant which unfortunately kills a lot of people every day. “

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