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'Deepest concerns': South Africa Covid-19 variant binds more easily to human cells, making it more infectious, govt adviser says
The so-called South Africa Covid-19 variant binds more easily to human cells with a stronger mechanism, allowing it to spread more easily between its human hosts, the government's advising chief epidemiologist said on Monday.
Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, spoke during a video conference about the 501Y.V2 variant, and highlighted a recent study that had "kicked off his deepest concerns" about the mutation.
The variant is able to enter "more deeply" into the human cell, meaning its "ability to bind to the human cell is now stronger," Karim said, explaining that this enables it to become a more "efficient virus in the way it transmits."
The findings are from a preliminary study into the N501Y mutations in the spike protein of coronavirus, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and was published in a pre-print format on December 26.
South African scientists discovered the 501Y.V2 variant late last year and it has since spread to the UK and at least 20 other countries.