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Coronavirus: Belgium reports first case of new variant B.1.1.529 in Europe


The new, apparently highly infectious Corona variant B.1.1.529 has arrived in Europe: Belgium has registered one case. It is apparently an unvaccinated traveler.

Enlarge image

Downtown Brussels (archive image): The first case of the new Corona variant was reported in Belgium


Alexandros Michailidis / Getty Images

Belgium reports an initial infection with the new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa.

The Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke said on Friday in Brussels that an unvaccinated person coming from abroad had tested positive for variant B.1.1.529.

Belgian virologist Marc van Ranst wrote on Twitter that it was a person who returned to Belgium from Egypt on November 11.

The person showed the first symptoms on November 22nd.

Van Ranst had previously stated that there were two suspicious samples that were being examined.

The variant B.1.1.529 was initially detected in southern Africa.

It first spread very quickly in the South African province of Gauteng, which is also located in Johannesburg.

So far there has been talk of around a hundred sequencing of the variant.

B.1.1.529 was also found in Botswana, and they also carried travelers to Hong Kong and Israel.

Germany and other EU countries have meanwhile announced that they will drastically reduce air traffic with South Africa.

The variant differs from others in its high number of mutations.

It carries a total of 32 mutations in the important spike protein alone, the part of the virus with which it attaches to and penetrates human host cells.

With eight mutations, the delta variant has significantly fewer changes.

In addition, B.1.1.529 also carries more than ten mutations in other parts of its genome.

It is still unclear whether the new variant is more contagious or even more dangerous for humans due to its mutations.

The sheer number of spike mutations does not necessarily say anything about the danger they pose.

But the experts' forecasts are bleak.

Caution is required, but don't panic

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced travel restrictions for people coming from countries in southern Africa.

Caution is needed, but don't panic, Vandenbroucke said.

“We don't yet know whether it is a very dangerous variant.” The travel restriction recommended by the EU Commission is a “precautionary measure”.

It is not yet clear to what extent the new variant could have spread in other EU countries.

Since only a small part of the samples are sequenced, there could be an unreported number.

If the new variant is actually more infectious than the delta variant, it could soon become the dominant variant.

How effective the vaccines will be against the new variant is also still speculative.

kry / AFP / Reuters / dpa

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-11-26

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