Vietnam records new coronavirus variant, which is quick through air
Genetic sequencing by the National Institute Of Hygiene And Epidemiology found at least four Covid-19 patients in the country carrying the hybrid variant, the VnExpress newspaper reported on Saturday.
"We discovered the Y144 deletion on spike protein S of the B.1.6172 variant. This mutation is similar to the one found on the B.1.17 variant," Le Thi Quynh Mai, deputy head of the institute, was quoted as saying.
Mai said such mutation on the B.1.6172 variant is not yet recorded by open-access database GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data). Thus it needs to be monitored and researched further, she said.
The variant is much more transmissible, especially in the air and viral cultures in the laboratory have revealed that the virus replicated itself very quickly, the report quoted Minister Nguyen Thanh Long Long as saying.
B.1.6172, referred to as the "double mutant", more recently deemed as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, may be both more transmissible and harder to neutralise by antibodies raised against previous variants.
The UK variant, on the other hand, is believed to be more transmissible than ordinary strains.
Vietnam's latest coronavirus wave since about a month ago has seen 3,595 local Covid-19 cases so far in 33 cities and provinces. Bac Giang still leads the number of coronavirus infections at 1,881, followed by neighbour Bac Ninh at 736, the report said.
The new variant explains why there are so many new cases in different locations in a shorter time frame, Long said.
The Southeast Asian country has, so far, recorded the presence of seven coronavirus variants, including ones from the UK and South Africa, the newspaper reported.