SA scientists who discovered new Covid-19 variant share what they know

Researchers say a tip from staff at a private hospital could be the reason the 501Y.V2 was picked up so quickly

25 January 2021 - 19:48 By Willem Hanekom and Tulio de Oliveira

Late last year, the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA), ( led by the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP ( identified a rapidly spreading new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The new variant, called 501Y.V2, raises critical questions, including whether current vaccines and treatments will still be effective.

With the support of the South African Medical Research Council ( (Sama) and the department of science and innovation (, a group of leading South African virologists, immunologists, vaccinologists, infectious disease specialists and microbiologists has since formed a consortium to address specific scientific questions surrounding 501Y.V2. The knowledge they generate will be shared with policymakers and developers of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. The Conversation Africa asked the consortium for the latest update on their work on 501Y.V2...

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