The countries of the European Union have agreed this Friday suspend travel from southern Africa due to the new South African variant of covid-19.
In addition, they have agreed that European residents who come from that area and who do have the right to enter the EU undergo testing and a period of quarantine, as reported by the Slovenian presidency of the EU.
For its part, the Government of USA it will wait for more data before deciding whether to suspend air traffic with South Africa and other African countries.
The Spanish government It has already announced that it will restrict flights from South Africa and Botswana to isolate itself from the new variant of covid-19 that is unleashing great international concern, despite the few infections that have been identified so far, none of them in Spain. .
The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, explained that there are still four days for this proposal to be approved, but “with imminent character” the General Directorate of Public Health will require passengers from high-risk countries “an antigen test or a PCR “, in addition to the vaccination, to be able to enter.
France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Austria and Israel are others who have already chosen to suspend travel.
And in the case of French stateFor example, the suspension will apply immediately for 48 hours and will also affect Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), as well as South Africa and Botswana.
The EMA still cannot foresee if it will be necessary to adapt vaccines
For its part, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) considers it “premature” to foresee whether it will be necessary to adapt covid-19 vaccines “with a different composition” to face the new emerging variant of coronavirus, and has stressed that the current information on the functioning of this strain is “insufficient”.
“If it were shown that a new mutated variant evades immunity and spreads rapidly in places where the delta variant (now) predominates, it would be relevant to initiate activities related to the updating of vaccines,” the European agency has admitted.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has classified the new strain of SARS-CoV-2, known as ‘Nu’ and first identified in South Africa, as a “variant of interest”.
In addition, this European body has warned that “based on the available evidence, it is likely that this variant is associated with a very high transmissibility and a significant immunological escape”.
According to the ECDC report, the variant has so far been detected in Botswana (6 cases), South Africa (59) and Hong Kong (2), although Belgium has also detected one case. The first reported case in Hong Kong has a travel history to South Africa. In addition, Hong Kong has reported a second case related to the first.
Israel has also reported an identified case in a person traveling from Malawi. All sequenced cases reported by South Africa come from the Gauteng region, where Johannesburg is located, which is currently experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.
Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting today to analyze the new variant of the coronavirus that causes covid-19 discovered in South Africa, and which worries scientists due to the thirty mutations it has developed.
The advisory group of experts of the WHO for new pathogens will analyze from this noon the data that are known from the variant B.1.1.529 together with his South African colleagues, as the head of the organization’s anticovid technical unit, María Van Kerkhove, announced on Thursday.
The decision comes after South Africa confirmed on Thursday the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus, identified as B.1.1.529, which has multiple mutations and which has raised “concern” among specialists because it could make current vaccines less effective. , although its impact has yet to be studied.
“We don’t know much about the variant yet, we know that has a high number of mutations, and the concern is that this affects the behavior of the virus, “said the expert, in the sense that can increase its transmission capacity, or its resistance to treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.
“It will take a few days to see what impact it can have and the potential of vaccines against the variant,” said the American expert, who saw the discovery somewhat positively, since in her opinion it reflects that laboratories continue to effectively control variations in the coronavirus.
The WHO has been warning for months that an excessively slow rate of vaccination, something that still occurs in developing countries, can lead to new, more dangerous variants of the coronavirus, and thus delay the end of the pandemic.
Uncertainty in the bags
The uncertainty has been reflected in the stock markets, which have suffered sharp falls. Specifically, the Spanish has fallen by 3.86%, above the 3.21% decrease in Paris, 2.93% for Milan or 2.58% for London.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.