New Covid variant may bypass immunity acquired through vaccine

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Highlights

  • WHO hosts meeting on worrying situation
  • 11 forest officers test positive in Dehradun

Geneva: Advisers to the World Health Organisation are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though a top expert says its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. The technical advisory group on the evolution of COVID-19 was meeting virtually to discuss the so-called B.1.1.529 variant that has caused stock markets to swoon and led the European Union to recommend a pause in flights to southern Africa.

It's a new variant. Wait and watch, we don't know its overall infectivity but the probability is that it may bypass your existing immunity either acquired through a vaccine or natural infection. If it bypasses, it'll be a serious issue, ssaid Dr. Sanjay Rai, Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS. The Karnataka Health department is on high alert after the number of Covid positive students at the SDM Medical College in Dharwad city, increased to 182 on Friday.

At least 66 students had tested positive on Thursday morning and 116 more were confirmed to have contracted the disease later in the day.

Thirty-three students and one staffer of an international boarding school in Bengaluru have tested positive for Covid-19, the Karnataka health department said on Friday.

Eleven of the 48 Indian Forest Service officers, who had gone for a mid-career training programme to Lucknow from Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy Dehradun, tested positive for COVID-19 on their return, in yet another case of cluster infection.

The UK's health authorities have confirmed that a new and "most significant" variant of COVID-19 is officially under investigation in the country as the government on Friday added six countries from southern Africa to its travel ban red list after the B.1.1.529 strain was first identified in South Africa.

"The last thing we need is to bring in a new variant that will cause even more problems," said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, amid a massive spike in cases in the 27-nation European Union, which is recommending a ban on flights from southern African nations.

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