South Africa's Virus Variant Found Less Infectious
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the South African coronavirus variant called B.1.351 could be far less infectious than the United Kingdom (UK) variant. The CDC has only reported 21 cases of the South African virus in the USA as of February 18, 2021.
This data compares with 1,523 cases of the UK's variant, reported in the USA by the CDC since the end of January 2021.
The CDC issued a caution, as the cases identified above are based on a sampling of SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7 or B.1.351 lineage cases circulating in the USA. Moreover, viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.
Separately, Dr. Eric Topol tweeted on February 21, 2021, 'The good news is that South Africa is back to its pre-B.1.351 baseline in covid cases. There's no proof this variant is more infectious. Its immune evasion is enough to explain how it took off. And the descent occurred without vaccines.'
Recently, South Africa launched an early access vaccine rollout to healthcare workers on February 17, 2021. South Africa secured the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine for use with up to 500,000 healthcare workers in 18 public sector hospitals across all nine provinces.