‘A lot to learn’ about South Africa’s new variant of COVID, says Boston infectious disease specialist – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS / AP) – A new variant of Covid is raising new concerns around the world. The discovery of the B.1.1.529 variant originating in southern Africa prompted countries to halt air travel from there as stocks fell on Friday in the United States and abroad.

No cases were reported in the United States and there was no immediate indication whether the variant was more transmissible or caused more severe disease.

Dr Paul Sax, clinical director of the infectious diseases clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said not much is known about it at this time.

“So a lot to learn, a lot of uncertainties at this point, but I’m really happy and very excited that the scientists have reported this and that we can work on it quickly,” he told CNN on Friday.

“Many of the cases that have been identified so far have actually been identified in people without symptoms and this is encouraging. This means that vaccines may still prove protection against serious illness, even if they have. allowed people to have a revolutionary case. ”

Dr Sax said that so far variants of the coronavirus “have not conclusively shown that the disease is getting worse.”

He thinks we’ll hear a lot of information over the next week about experiments being carried out to keep up with the new variant.

“I know the people I’ve contacted, the virologists, say we should be able to tell pretty quickly if this is circulating widely here. I suspect it’s not because the only place it’s widely circulated, so far, has been in southern Africa, but at least we can find out – is there any signal of early cases? “

Dr Sax said travel bans have so far had a limited effect on the spread of the virus around the world.

He said the best way to be protected is to get a booster, as vaccines are very likely to prevent serious illness.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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