Another new COVID strain found in Nigeria, says Africa CDC

Another new variant of the new coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa’s disease control body has said, cautioning more investigation was needed.

The discovery could add to new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that appear to be more contagious were announced in the United Kingdom and South Africa, leading to the swift return of international travel restrictions and other measures just as the world enters a holiday season.

Another new variant of the new coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa’s disease control body has said, cautioning more investigation was needed.

The discovery could add to new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that appear to be more contagious were announced in the United Kingdom and South Africa, leading to the swift return of international travel restrictions and other measures just as the world enters a holiday season.

“It’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,” John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told reporters on Thursday.

Nkengasong said the Nigeria CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in that country – Africa’s most populous – will be analyzing more samples.

“Give us some time … it’s still very early,” he said.

The alert about the apparent new variant was based on two or three genetic sequences, Nkengasong said, but that and South Africa’s alert late last week were enough to prompt an emergency meeting of the Africa CDC this week.

The variant was found in two patient samples collected on August 3 and on October 9 in Nigeria’s Osun state, according to a working research paper seen by The Associated Press news agency.

Unlike the variant seen in the UK, “we haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria and do not have evidence to indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria. However, the relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs the UK may imply a reduced power to detect such changes”, the paper said.

(Source: Aljazeera)

 

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