Botswana variant symptoms: B.1.1.529 differences explained – what are the symptoms?

Covid: Dr Hilary sends warning over threat of a new variant

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Officials have dubbed the new variant B.1.1.529 and have identified a total of 32 mutations in its DNA. They have urged immediate action, with doctors scared these could indicate a threat unlike any the pandemic has spawned before. The variant has forced rare decisive action from the British Government, with several African nations now on the UK’s red travel list and Sajid Javid delivering a prompt update.

What are the symptoms of the new Covid variant?

Although countries have started to firm up their borders following the recent news, it has already spread through three.

Sequencers have identified cases in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana – and it may have travelled further afield.

Health secretary Sajid Javid warned it is “highly likely” to have spread elsewhere.

In Hong Kong, doctors discovered “insanely high” viral loads in two patients staying in different rooms.

B.1.1.529’s enhanced load could lead to more severe symptoms, but doctors haven’t outlined whether these differ from typical Covid.

The disease has several hallmark symptoms of which most people are now familiar.

In some cases, such as with the Delta variant, these can differ, however.

The base Covid infection tends to cause the following symptoms:

  • High temperature
  • A new and continuous cough
  • Loss or change to smell and taste

Delta variant infections present with a slightly altered set of symptoms.

These include:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Sneezing

Any number of these symptoms could apply to B.1.1.529, but there is no confirmation yet.

Scientists have only been able to offer analysis of the few available facts, and they believe they understand its origin.

Francois Balloux, a professor and director of UCL’s Genetics Institute, said the variant’s teeming mutations came from a “single burst”.

He suggested it could have evolved within a victim suffering from a weakened immune system caused by HIV or AIDS.

Professor Balloux told The Guardian he feared the Covid vaccine’s current configuration would not prove potent enough.

He explained antibodies afforded by the jab – primarily from the Alpha and Delta strains – would not recognise the new variant.

But he conceded that it is “difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage” and advocated enhanced monitoring.

Professor Balloux also offered some reassurance, adding: “There is no reason to get overly concerned unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future.”

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