During a news briefing, genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein — the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, said the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”
He advised the public to “try to avoid super spreading events.”
Officials also expressed concern that the mutation could result in immune evasion and enhanced transmissibility of the virus, but added it is too early to tell what kind of impact the mutations will have on vaccine efficacy. More studies also need to be conducted to understand the clinical severity of the variant compared to previous variants, officials said.
“The full significance of this variant remains uncertain and the best tool we have is still the vaccines,” De Oliveira said. He added that lab studies still need to be carried out to test vaccine and antibody evasion.
Also Thursday, UK officials announced that six African countries will be added to England’s travel “red list” after the UK Health Security Agency flagged concern over the variant.
UK’s Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights to the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list — meaning UK residents and British and Irish nationals arriving home from those points of departure must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
“UKHSA is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we’re taking precautions now,” Javid said, adding the variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and that “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective.”
On Friday, South African officials will brief the World Health Organization, which has classified B.1.1.529 as a “variant under monitoring.”
South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant Covid-19 waves since the pandemic’s start. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of a slow vaccine uptake.
Despite a preponderance of the evidence proving COVID to be a non-event for most of us, over 1 million people have fallen foul to vaccine injury. This should be enough to stop most people in their tracks. It hasn’t.
Many emerge from near death experience even more pontifical than before, denouncing the rest of us for not joining in this mortal game of Russian Roulette. Fuelling their self-righteous indignation of us, is other people’s self-righteous indignation of them. It is a perpetual loop of blame and shame.
There can be no avoiding these people. A sort of Provisional Mask Army. The ones acting in good conscience lost to the morally virtuous super spreaders of hyperbole.
They will believe whatever they hear and do whatever they’re told. They have been groomed by something far more powerful than the truth, called ‘the science,’ and they will follow ‘it’ right off the edge of a cliff.
But that’s only half the story. If you’re unfortunate enough to die within two weeks of taking the jab, despite your best effort, the CDC might record your death as ‘unvaccinated,’ the commentariat might report that you “died suddenly and following a short illness,” and family members might take comfort in the fact that “things could have been worse,”
This unholy mess works because a new ideology has swept across the moral fabric. Unless you’re taking an experimental medical intervention fraught with danger, you’re dancing on the graves of all those who have died.
Ridding people with guilt takes away their power, and blind obedience to authority does the rest, as Milgram discovered in his landmark experiment.
But the fact that humanity is in an abusive relationship with its governments, is only one part of the problem. There’s a long history of cults infiltrating polite society. The cult of personality of Lenin and later Stalin once captured an entire nation. But never in history has the entire world fallen to a cult.
Where the New Normal departs from other cult archetypes is in the instruments of mass communication, in the hands of a few fanatics, that have infiltrated the commons, and created an apotheosis around COVID-19, glorifying it to thedivine proportions of Christianity. It has long been understood that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes consensus.
Also of great importance to these evangelists are the decades of behavioural studies by the most distinguished experts in the field of social psychology.
And much of what is happening today in the rank and file of the New Normal, has the lessons of the Third Reich written all over it. If you’re still oblivious to the fact that you’re being indoctrinated into a cult, it’s probably because you’ve already been indoctrinated.