A new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa appears to be rapidly mutating and spreading among younger patients, officials announced on Thursday.
The new variant — dubbed B.1.1.529 by scientists — has been detected in South Africa, Botswana and in a South African traveler to Hong Kong, according to South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla.
Phaahla said in an online press briefing Thursday that “over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise” in the variant.
Health officials expressed worry that the variant could result in immune evasion and greater transmission of the virus, but have said it’s too early to determine its impact yet.
The new variant has a “constellation” of new mutations, according to Tulio