GENEVA, Nov 26, Reuters -- The World Health Organization is convening an expert meeting from Geneva at midday 1100 GMT on Friday to examine the new COVID 19 variant B. There was growing concern about 529, said a spokeswoman.
European and Asian countries tightened travel restrictions on Friday after a new vaccine-resistant coronaviruses variant was detected in South Africa, with the EU, Britain and India announcing stricter border controls.
We don't know much about this yet. We know that this variant has a large number of mutations. Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and WHO technical lead on COVID-19, said that the concern is when you have so many mutations it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.
We have concerns about this one, and I would say that it is a good one to watch. "I think you would want us to have concern," said a person on Thursday in an event on social media.
Van Kerkhove said that it was good that variants were detected, adding that it means that we have a system in place. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that the technical advisory group of the UN agency and other experts in the field of virus evolution were talking to South African researchers.
He said that the WHO is going to convene a meeting to better understand the timeline for studies under way and determine if this variant should be designated as a variant of interest or variant of concern.
Nearly 100 sequences of the variant have been reported, and early analysis shows that it has a large number of mutations that need further study, according to Lindmeier.
He said that the WHO had no comment on travel restrictions imposed by some authorities in southern African countries linked to the variant.