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New variant displaying a ‘big jump in evolution’ detected in South Africa.

JOHANNESBURG — A concerning new variant of the coronavirus, whose mutations evidence a “big jump in evolution,” is driving a spike in new Covid-19 infections in South Africa, scientists said on Thursday.

In the last 36 hours after observing an increase in infections in South Africa’s economic hub, the Gauteng province, scientists detected the B1.1.529 variant. So far, 22 positive cases have been identified in South Africa, according to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Since the onset of the pandemic, a number of variants have emerged. One underlying concern about new variants is whether they will stymie progress against the pandemic or whether they will limit the vaccine’s effectiveness. South African scientists will meet with the World Health Organization technical team on Friday, where authorities will assign a letter of the Greek alphabet to this one.

Botswana’s health ministry confirmed in a statement that four cases of the new variant…

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