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Scientists in South Africa:

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    Manufacturers of Americas most used vaccines are saying that they can quickly respond to challenges presented by the South African Nu variant. The recently emerged variant is believed to be the most infectious yet, and some fear it could evade protection provided but the current crop of COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna, who are responsible for producing the two most common vaccines in the U.S., have all said they can quickly update the vaccines to provide protection against the emerging variant, if necessary. While the variant is yet to have been detected in the United States, it has appeared in multiple countries in Africa and Europe, keeping American officials on high alert. CNBC's Meg Tirell (pictured) reports that Pfizer and Moderna both are taking action to potentially update their COVID-19 vaccines if need be in wake of the newly discovered South African virus strain The new strain has over 30 mutations, it what has been described as a 'constellation' by some 'Moderna and BioNTech and Pfizer tell us that they are already looking at this very closely and have...
    White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci gives his opening statement before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on "Next Steps: The Road Ahead for the COVID-19 Response" on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 4, 2021.Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters The U.S. will speak Friday with scientists from South Africa to "get the facts" on the emerging, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant detected there in a small number of samples, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's "New Day." Reviewing South Africa's research will help the U.S. better understand whether the novel B.1.1.529 variant can evade the antibody protection against the virus provided by vaccines and previous infection, Fauci said. With countries across Europe and Asia imposing travel restrictions on several nations in southern Africa, Fauci added that analyzing the data could help determine whether similar measures might also be necessary in the U.S. "This is really something that's in motion," Fauci said. "And we just arranged, right now, a discussion between our scientists and the South African scientists a little bit later in the morning to...
    JOHANNESBURG -- A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced Thursday.The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections, Phaahla said at an online press briefing."Over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise," he said, adding that the new variant appears to be driving the spike in cases. Scientists in South Africa are working to determine what percentage of the new cases have been caused by the new variant.Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers from South Africa, he said.The WHO's technical working...
    SOUTH Africa is set to be slapped with a travel ban in a desperate bid to halt the arrival of a terrifying new Covid strain. Senior Government scientists said the super-mutant was the “worst variant they have seen so far” – with vaccines expected to be at least a third less effective against it. 1A new strain is running rampant across South AfricaCredit: AP Experts warn the strain is behind an explosion of new cases in South Africa, with some regions seeing a six-fold rise in infections in a matter of days. It will now likely be placed on the travel red list, meaning only Brits and UK residents can now fly in. Officials are also desperately trying to trace thousands who have arrived from South Africa in the past ten days. Scientists said the new strain was unlikely to be in the UK, but with up to 700 people flying in a day, they could not rule it out. Currently called B.1.1.529, the bug has 32 mutations – twice as many as the delta variant. As well as South...
    JOHANNESBURG, Nov 25 (Reuters) – South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications, they said on Thursday. The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference. Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has rapidly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country’s other eight provinces, they said. South Africa has confirmed around 100 specimens as B.1.1.529, but the variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case a traveler from South Africa. As many as 90% of new cases in Gauteng could be B.1.1.529, scientists believe. “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be,” South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in...
    JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The fossil remains of an early hominid child have been discovered in a cave in South Africa by a team of international and South African researchers. The team announced the discovery of a partial skull and teeth of a Homo naledi child who died almost 250,000 years ago when it was approximately four to six years old. The remains were found in a remote part of the cave that suggests the body had been placed there on purpose, in what could be a kind of grave, said the announcement Thursday. The placement “adds mystery as to how these many remains came to be in these remote, dark spaces of the Rising Star Cave system,” said Professor Guy Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who led the team and made the announcement Thursday. Homo naledi is a species of archaic human found in the Rising Star Cave, Cradle of Humankind, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Johannesburg. Homo naledi dates to the Middle Pleistocene era 335,000–236,000 years ago. The initial discovery, first publicly announced in 2015,...
    An employee at Afrigen works in a laboratory in Cape Town.RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Scientists in Cape Town, South Africa are “assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people,” the Associated Press reported Sunday.  Last weekend, the New York Times reported that Moderna was profiting by sending most of its vaccines to wealthy countries and that “some poorer countries are paying more and waiting longer for the company’s vaccine than the wealthy—if they have access at all”— something my colleague Edwin Rios called “shameful and dangerous.”  Earlier this year, Moderna said it would expand its vaccine distribution to poor countries. But as we get closer to the end of 2021, most poor countries still don’t have access to Moderna’s shot, all while the a Massachusetts-based company is expected to make around $20 billion in revenue this year.  The move to reverse engineer the Moderna...
    A coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa 'could be more infectious' than other mutations and have the potential to 'evade vaccines', scientists have said. The C.1.2 strain, which is linked to 'increased transmissibility', is more mutations away from the original virus seen in Wuhan, experts at South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform said. The virus was first identified by scientists in South Africa in May and has since been found in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland. In their study scientists found the strain, which descends from the C.1 strain that was first spotted amid the first wave of the pandemic, has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year. The C.1.2 strain, which descends from the C.1 strain that was first spotted amid the first wave of the pandemic, has a mutation rate of about 41.8 mutations per year This rate is nearly double the current global mutation rate seen in any other Variant of Concern (VOC) so far.    During their study,...
    (CNN)Scientists have identified an "escape mutant" that may decrease the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. The mutation -- called E484K -- has been found in a variant of the coronavirus first spotted in South Africa two months ago. That variant has now spread to 12 other countries. Penny Moore, associate professor at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, called the mutation "alarming." Read More "We fear this mutation might have an impact, and what we don't know is the extent of the impact," she said. E484K is called an "escape mutant" because it's been shown it might be able to escape some of the antibodies produced by the vaccine. "I'm worried," said Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute. Sigal, Moore, and other scientists who are studying the E484K mutation still have to complete their work in the lab to see if the vaccine is less effective against this new variant. The US has averaged more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths a day over the past week Based on what they've seen so far,...
    IT SOUNDS like a plot lifted from a science fiction flick, but scientists have suggested permanently dimming the Sun to save South Africa from deadly dry spells. The hairbrained scheme would involve pumping vast quantities of gas into the atmosphere above Cape Town to preserve local water supplies. 3 It evokes the plot of 2007 sci-fi movie Sunshine, in which scientists head off on a daring mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear bomb in 2057. Put forward by experts at the University of Cape Town, it's hoped the plan would dramatically reduce the chances of a water crisis engulfing the city. Fears over a "Day Zero" drought – the point at which there’s not enough water for everyone – hitting the region have been brewing for years. With the climate crisis tightening its grip on our planet, the chances of such a dry spell hitting Cape Town will triple by 2100, according to research. 3The hairbrained scheme would involve pumping vast quantities of gas into the atmosphere above Cape Town to preserve local water suppliesCredit: Getty Images...
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