The new heavily mutated COVID strain that experts have warned could be the most dangerous variant yet has already made its way to Europe. According to The Guardian, Belgium has identified a B.1.1.529 case in an unvaccinated young adult woman who had recently been traveling in Egypt and Turkey. The unnamed woman said she hadn’t been to South Africa or other countries in southern Africa, where the variant is believed to have originated. The new variant has 32 mutations and will likely be called Nu, the 13th letter in the Greek alphabet, if officially designated a variant of concern, but it’s currently known to virologists as B.1.1.529. Earlier Friday, the European Union followed Britain in moving to ban flights from Southern Africa in a bid to slow down the spread of the variant. Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described B.1.1.529 as “the most significant variant” to develop since the start of the pandemic.
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