A new variant has recently been added to the list of coronavirus mutations. Detected for the first time in South Africa, it would have supplanted the Delta variant. So, should we be worried?

As microbiologist Emmanuel André explains, South Africa recently observed an increase in contamination following a new variant. A mutation of the coronavirus which seems to take over the Delta variant, yet very contagious.

With all of his modifications in the spike protein, he looks very contagious. Looks like he could be a candidate to induce immune escape, to increase transmission“, confirms the microbiologist.”This is why we are entering a phase of alert from a scientific point of view, which will allow us to know exactly what we are dealing with. We will start to look at this very precisely in Belgium and in Europe.

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What virulence?

The virulence of this variant is not yet sufficiently known. “We are still hoping for this famous hypercontagious variant that would boost our immunity without being mean. But each time we have been disappointed. When we organize a health policy, we cannot base ourselves on a hypothetical decrease in the virulence of the virus“, adds Emmanuel André.”It is not responsible, although we hope.”

I am obviously worried about the decrease in virulence“, adds Jean-Christophe Goffart, Director of Internal Medicine at Erasme Hospital. “Because the selection of a virus is based on transmissibility. But the pathogenesis is all the little proteins that once injected into the cell will cause health problems for the patient.“Now, these would not be under pressure to escape our immunity and be better transmitted. Understand: they will undoubtedly remain more stable.

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The opportunity for Emmanuel André to remind that we are not immune to new variants. “The message is that this wave is not where everything is going to end. We will have to keep measurements over time.

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