The World Health Organization (WHO) convened an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the potentially rapidly spreading coronavirus strain (called B.1.1.529) found in South Africa and how well the medicine and vaccines currently available work against it. According to Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and WHO technical lead on COVID-19, researchers are studying mutations of the spike protein. Many of these mutations are linked to increased antibody resistance, which may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and affect how the virus behaves with regard to vaccines, treatments, and transmissibility. Nearly 100 sequences of the variant have been reported.
The WHO will name this variant after the danger it likely poses is known.
Scientists earlier thought that the new variant could evade the body's immune response, which makes it more dangerous than other variants.