Is the new COVID-19 variant affecting more women and younger people?

Is the new COVID-19 variant affecting more women and younger people?

Prof Tulio de Oliveira, world-renowned virus hunter and bioinformatician from KRISP at UKZN, joined Darren, Keri, and Sky to discuss the effects of the new variant and to give an update on the vaccine.

Covid19 New Zealand - AFP

The new COVID-19 variant has proven to be more transmissible than the virus that hit the country in March 2020.

Men and old people were found to be 40% more likely to die during the first wave, but with the new variant, there are more deaths across all genders and age groups.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: "A new COVID-19 variant has been discovered outside South Africa"

"This is an indication of how rapidly transmissible the new variant is," says Prof Tulio de Oliveira. 

Although this is the case, Prof Tulio says that South Africa has managed to decrease the infection rate during the lockdown. He does, however, admit that we cannot let our guard down with this new variant as it is teaching SA and the world that the transmission rate has to get to zero.

READ: Why is it important for people not to refuse the vaccine?

The big take away message for Darren Maule is: "Every time the virus passes on from one person to another, we give it more opportunity to mutate." 

Prof Tulio de Oliveira also addressed the following questions:

  • Should the new variants be viewed as a new pandemic?
  • Would worldwide vaccination eradicate the disease in years to come, or would it just cause it to lose it’s volatility like the H1N1 virus or will future generations see periodical infections like the bubonic plague?
  • Would the vaccine have to be administered and updated on a seasonal basis, or will one vaccine be good enough? 
  • What would determine how severely someone is affected? Is it genetics and if it is, would it be possible to manufacture that specific gene? 

Listen to the podcast below:

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