New Delhi (NVI): Another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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.
“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 a media briefing.
The alert about the apparent new variant was based on two or three genetic sequences, Nkengasong said.
The variant was found in two patient samples collected on August 3 and on October 9 in Nigeria’s Osun state, according to media reports.
Unlike the variant seen in the UK, rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria has not been observed and there is currently no evidence to indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria.
The news came as cases surge in Nigeria and South Africa. In the past week, Nigeria reported a 52 percent increase in cases and South Africa a 40 percent increase, Nkengasong said.
While the variant transmits quickly and viral loads are higher, it is not yet clear whether it leads to a more severe disease, he said.
So far, Nigeria has more than 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.