Experts checking how COVID-19 variant emerged: Prof Karim

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The Ministerial Advisory Committee’s Professor Salim Abdool Karim says experts are checking how the new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa came about.

South Africa is currently experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus infections, with government urging  the public to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing and regular hand washing.

On Saturday, the Department of Health confirmed that infections have increased to 912 477 with 10 939 new cases and 254 new deaths, which brings the total death toll to 24 539.



Experts are checking to see if the vaccines that will be available next year – will work with the variant of the virus.

Professor Karim says the virus was stable for a long time and scientists in South Africa are involved in the difficult task of trying to track how the virus changed to foster a new variant.

“How much of the virus has to change before we regard it as a change in the strain is something that has to be determined by the WHO. The level of reliability we are seeing now would not constitute a strain change. We are not dealing with strains at this time. We are just dealing with a variant so, if you wanna call it as it’s within the family,” says Karim.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim on the latest COVID-19 cases in SA:

Karim earlier confirmed that South Africa is not dealing with a new strain of coronavirus – but a new variant that has all the same characteristics of the virus.

“ACE2 stands for angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. It’s in many different kinds of cells. When you get this viral infection, it can only enter a cell and cause the cell to become infected if the cell has the ACE2 receptor what we have found that does help is that you can generate a monoclonal antibody, instead of the virus attaching to the ACE2 receptor, the monoclonal antibody goes and jams it up,” says Karim while describing the new variant of the virus.

This means that people must continue to observe the same protocols to slow the spread of coronavirus. They are also encouraged to avoid enclosed spaces, if possible.