S Africans encouraged to embrace vaccine amid new COVID-19 variant

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Health experts have encouraged South Africans to embrace the COVID-19 vaccine expected to be rolled out in the country in the second quarter of next year, as a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in the country.

The variant appears to be spreading quickly during the second wave of the coronavirus, with higher viral loads than the original virus.

Speaking during a panel hosted by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addressing the media in an online session, Ministerial Advisory Committee’s, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says at this stage it’s not yet clear if the already developed vaccines for the coronavirus will be effective on the new variant of COVID-19.

“We have several vaccine trials that are currently under way in South Africa including for example the J&J vaccines so, we will have a direct clinical trial evidence as well as laboratory evidence about the impact of this virus on whether our current vaccines are effective or not which I would expect them to be.”

Karim says the second wave in the Western Cape is much more than the first wave.

Notes from briefing:

New variant dominating new infections

Meanwhile, the Director of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Research Innovation Platform, Professor Tulio De Oliviera, who confirmed the COVID-19 variant, during a panel hosted by Mkhize, says the new lineage of the coronavirus is dominating new infections in South Africa.

He says the new variant started spreading in the Eastern Cape and has spread along the Garden Route before spreading to KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and other parts of the country.

De Oliviera says the new coronavirus has a lot of mutations or changes in its genetic material.

Briefing below: