JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has announced that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is driving the country's resurgence of the disease, with higher numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
According to health officials and scientists leading the country’s virus strategy, the new variant, known as 501.V2, is dominant among new confirmed infections in South Africa’s current wave.
The new strain, different from the one in Britain, appears to be more infectious than the original virus. South African scientists are studying if the vaccines against COVID-19 will also offer protection against the new strain.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee, said in a briefing to journalists that the preliminary data suggests that the new strain of the virus is now dominating South Africa's new wave which is spreading faster than the first.
South Africa currently has more than 8,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the previous high of 8,300 recorded in August.