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‘Let’s listen to scientists and not panic’: WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan on new coronavirus variant | World News

While the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 has prompted panic amongst nations, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Friday stated that the WHO’s technical advisory group on SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution (TAG VE) would maintain a meeting to review the state of affairs and conduct additional research concerning the variant. She additionally urged nations to not panic and focus on the vaccination programmes and strengthen public well being measures.

“The @WHO technical advisory group on #SARSCoV2 virus evolution will meet today to review what’s known and plan further studies,” Swaminathan tweeted. “Meanwhile, we need to focus on strengthening vaccination coverage and public health measures. Let’s be cautious, listen to scientists & not panic,” she added.

The emphasis on listening to scientists from the WHO’s chief scientist got here after the UN well being company’s spokesperson Christian Lindmeier cautioned nations towards implementing journey measures. “The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures,” he stated, as a number of nations imposed restrictions on flights arriving from South Africa, the place the variant was first detected, and many extra nations mulling such measures.

Meanwhile, a digital meeting of the TAG VE started at 1100 hrs GMT (4.30pm IST) to focus on the classification of the variant, in accordance to a report by AFP. Earlier within the day, technical lead of the WHO’s well being emergencies program Maria Van Kerkhove too stated that the group would meet to focus on the variant.

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“I thank researchers from South Africa and Botswana for sharing information with @WHO & the world about B.1.1.529 variant that has been recently detected. We will convene our TAG-VE again today to discuss. Everyone out there: do not discriminate against countries that share their findings openly,” Kerkhove tweeted.

Further, on Thursday, she additionally stated, “There are fewer than a 100 whole genome sequences available. We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.”

Noting that it would take a couple of weeks for the worldwide physique to perceive the influence of the new variant, she stated “The TAG VE will discuss if it will become a variant of interest or a variant of concern and if that’s the case then we will give it a Greek name but it is something to watch.”

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