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South African scientists have detected new COVID-19 variant

An 87-year-old woman receives her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Cape Town, South Africa, in this file photo from June 2021. Scientists are assessing a new coronavirus variant that’s been identified in the country.

(The Associated Press/ CBC News) –– A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced Thursday.

The virus that causes COVID-19 evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.

South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections, Phaahla said at an online press briefing. (…)