Nu COVID Variant Detected in Botswana

Scientists are observing a newly discovered COVID-19 strain (B. 1.1529), the NU variant, which has a large number of spike mutations.

“Currently only 4 sequences so would recommend monitoring for now. Export to Asia implies this might be more widespread than sequences alone would imply. Also, the extremely long branch length and incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern,” warned Imperial College London virologist Dr. Tom Peacock

Only 10 cases of the Nu strain have been confirmed so far in three countries, Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

“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,” explained Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London.

Peacock further warned that Nu could potentially cause fresh outbreaks worldwide due to its ability to bypass the human immune system but due to its high number of mutations, it may not be as transmissible as other strains.


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