Dr. Marc Siegel: Johannesburg Covid-19 Variant Appears to be ‘Highly Contagious’


Dr. Marc Siegel said Thursday the fresh Covid-19 variant out of Johannesburg, South Africa, appeared to be the “highly contagious” variant behind 2,500 new cases in the region.

“I’ve said before … I’m not always as concerned about these variants of concern, but these — this one, B.1.1.529, does concern me,” Siegel said in an interview with Fox News’ Mike Emanuel. “It’s got 32 mutations in the spike protein, which is how the virus spreads. And in the province around Johannesburg, there’s about 2,500 new cases over the past day, and they think — not proven yet — that this is the predominant variant.”

Only 10 cases of the strain, alternatively called “Omicron,” had been discovered as of Wednesday — in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong. University College London Professor Francois Balloux theorized that it developed as a lingering infection in an immunocompromised patient, saying, “Given the large number of mutations it has accumulated apparently in a single burst, it likely evolved during a chronic infection of an immunocompromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.”

Siegel said the new strain provoked an array of unanswered questions.

“It looks like it’s highly contagious,” he said. “And that is what concerns me, because the other variants that have emerged haven’t had a chance against Delta because Delta is so contagious. The other issue is, will the vaccine protect against this variant? Will the treatments protect against this variant? We’re keeping a really close eye on this one.”

Watch above via Fox News.

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