A person walking through the main street of Christmas Square in Barcelona, Spain.
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The top EU official said the news was new coronavirus The version is “worrying” and acknowledges that it could have consequences for the region’s economy.
A handful of countries, particularly South Africa and Botswana, have discovered examples of the new version, known as B.1.1.529. Experts have tried to allay initial concerns by stressing that Covid-19 footage should still be somewhat effective.
“What is emerging is worrying,” Mairead McGuinness, EU financial stability commissioner, told CNBC on Friday for “Squawk Box Europe”.
“For our economies, of course, if there are further constraints, if this escalates, which we hope will not, then you are likely to see some impact,” she added, noting that the bloc is now in a better position to tackle the pandemic in compared to the first wave.
The new version comes at a time when different European nations are grappling with growing cases of the delta variant and have therefore announced social constraints to curb proliferation. This meant that some countries, including Austria and the Czech Republic, focused on unvaccinated sections of their population.
But for most EU governments, the new measures include mandatory use of masks indoors and tips for working from home. So far, there have been no extensive predictions of total closures, in stark contrast to previous waves.
European officials are also stepping up efforts to increase vaccination coverage. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday: “A quarter of adults in the EU are still not fully vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you are more at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. Vaccination protects you and others.”
“This particular version appears to have a very worrying set of mutations, especially in the spike protein, which is required for its transmission properties and protection against vaccines, so we are very concerned about genetic information,” Pasi Penttinen, emergency response manager in public health at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, he told CNBC on Friday.
The ECDC is assessing the situation and will report to EU governments later Friday.
“We still have a lot to learn about the situation in South Africa and all efforts should now be made not only in South Africa but in the countries of the South African region to ensure that they get a complete picture of this virus,” he said.