WHO hosts special meeting on worrying new COVID variant

Coronavirus

FILE – In this April 15, 2020 file photo, the logo and building of the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.N. health agency says Europe stood out as the only major region worldwide to report an increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths over the last week, with double-digit percentage increases in each. The World Health Organization said Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 that cases in its 53-country European region, which includes former Soviet republics in Central Asia, recorded an 18% increase in COVID-19 cases over the last week. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, file)

GENEVA — Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has been detected in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks.

The technical advisory group on the evolution of COVID-19 was meeting virtually to discuss the so-called B.1.1.529 variant that has caused stock markets to swoon and led the European Union to recommend a pause in flights to southern Africa.

The group could decide if it’s a “variant of concern” — the most worrying type, like the well-known delta variant — or a “variant of interest,” and whether to use a Greek letter to classify it.

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