'Covid VSOP, not the normal one': Mzansi reacts to new Covid-19 variant

21 December 2020 - 08:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
Masks remain a vital non-pharmaceutical weapon against the spread of Covid-19.
Image: 123RF / maridav Masks remain a vital non-pharmaceutical weapon against the spread of Covid-19.

The country's new Covid-19 variant has been met with mixed reactions from many, with some calling it “a special variant”.

On Friday, health minister Zweli Mkhize and a panel of scientists announced the new variant was causing a second wave of infections.

Mkhize said the variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus, or 501. V2 Variant, was identified by SA's genomics scientists.

He said the new variant was first found in Nelson Mandela Bay and was “making young and previously healthy people severely ill”.

“We don’t know where it came from and we don’t know why it formed. We found the first in Nelson Mandela Bay, but we don’t know if it originated there. It is too early to tell if it is more severe,” said Mkhize.

“Clinicians have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture, in particular noting they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no comorbidities presenting with a critical illness.

“The evidence that has been collated strongly suggests the second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant.”

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the ministerial advisory committee on the coronavirus, said the second wave was showing early signs that it is spreading faster than the first wave.

“ At this stage, the preliminary data suggests the virus dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave.

“It is not clear if the second wave has more or less deaths so the severity is still very unclear. We would expect it to be a less severe virus, but we do not have clear evidence at this point. We have not seen any red flags looking at our current death information,” he said.

On social media, many said the new variant sounded scary, while others jokingly gave it a new name, calling it “Covid VSOP”.

Here is a snapshot of some reactions.