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New B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant causes no severe diseases - health minister

South African doctors and experts have found no evidence that the new B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant causes severe illnesses, Health Minister Joe Phaahla stated during a press conference on Friday.

"[At this stage], the scientists have found no evidence that this variant will create severe illnesses," the health minister noted. He also emphasized that no scientific evidence regarding an increased aggressiveness of the B.1.1.529 variant had been reported so far. "Scientists have found no evidence that this variant is more transmissible," Phaahla pointed out.

The health minister mentioned that it was too early to say how the new COVID-19 variant would behave. "[The South African] government is aware that the announcement which was made by scientists has created panic and some uncertainty," Phaahla said. "This reaction was unjustified."

During the press conference, Phaahla also noted that there was every reason to confirm the efficiency of the existing COVID-19 vaccines against the B.1.1.529 variant.

[Source: Tass, Pretoria, 26Nov21]

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