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Covid-19 variants lead to unprecedented spike in S. Africa

Professional healthcare workers make their way inside a temporary ward dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.   -  
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PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP or licensors

South Africa

The unprecedented spike in covid-19 cases in South Africa is due to the virus variants. Scientists in the country say the transmissible nature of the variants is growing at an alarming rate, as never seen before.

Bioinformatician Houriiyah Tegally, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, (KRISP) team that discovered the South African coronavirus variants said ‘’it is inevitable’’.

"The virus is evolving and the more it spreads in an uncontrolled manner in many places across the world, the more chances we are giving the virus to evolve, the most chances we are giving the virus to infect immunocompromised patients and for such new variants to escape", Tegally said.

Because of the different kind of the variants’ evolution, the scientists are not yet certain of the origin. The theory is that the new variants come from immunocompromised patients.

"It is going to happen and as many people have said we are now in a race against the virus. We need to decrease transmission, we need to vaccinate people before it evolves even more and before these variants start taking over in a way that we cannot control", she added.

On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a major vaccination plan. The strategy is hoping to reach all paths of the country. And is the largest logistical program in the country’s history.

Barry Schoub is Chairman of ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 vaccine. He’s optimistic the vaccination plan would be successful.

"It's going to be a lot of organization. They're looking at training about 6,500 vaccinators. Each one will have to vaccinate about 50 people a day, so it's a huge undertaking. But we've done it before, we did it with the HIV treatment campaign, making South Africa the largest HIV treatment campaign in the world."

The main challenge would to be to distribute the vaccine in parts of the country. Due to the lack of access roads, it would be difficult to reach.

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