World Health Organization officials met on Thursday to discuss a new coronavirus variant circulating in South Africa and Botswana.
The new variant, called B.1.1529, carries an unusually large number of mutations, Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, said in a statement published by the Science Media Centre. It's likely to have evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient, he said.
"It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage," Mr Balloux said. "For the time being, it should be closely monitored and analysed, but there is no reason to get overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future."