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New COVID-19 Variant Detected In Nigeria, 15 Other Countries – NCDC

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Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekwazu, has revealed that a new variant of COVID19 has been detected in Nigeria and 15 other countries.

Iheakwazu while speaking at Monday’s weekly briefing of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said the new variant dubbed B.1.525 was first discovered in a sample collected on November 23 from a patient in Lagos State.

The DG stated that the B.1.2.5, which is different from the highly infectious B.1.1.7 has not been described as a variant of concern and has spread to a few other countries.

He expressed;

There is a new variant, the B.1.2.5 which we have begun to detect in Nigeria and 15 other countries. It is important to note that this variant has not been described as a variant of concern yet.

Researchers and scientists are still working hard to understand if this variant has any effect on the virus transmissibility, immunity, as well as diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

This is because the variant has some similar mutations with the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

Iheakwazu said Nigeria has now confirmed 54 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant within its borders, stressing;

That is a significant number out of the 400 we have sequenced since the beginning of the outbreak.

He noted that the cases were found between November 2020 and February 2021, adding that scientists are monitoring the strain to understand its circulation rates in the country.

Read Also: UK’s New COVID-19 Variant Found In Nigeria, Scientists Say

The B.1.525 variant contains a genetic change called E484K, also found in the Brazilian and South African variants, BBC reports.

The variant has been seen in other countries like Denmark and the United States.

Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE) has said there is no evidence that the mutations in the new variant make the virus more transmissible or cause severe disease.

The B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and has spread to over 80 countries in the world.

Read Also: Britain Says New COVID-19 Strain ‘Out Of Control’

Mr Ihekweazu said Nigeria is scaling up its sequencing capacity to help it understand ongoing transmission.

He noted that about 100 samples will be sent to Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at Redeemers University in Ede, Osun State for sequencing every week.

The NCDC boss urged the public to continue to adhere to all non pharmaceutical measures put in place to limit spread of the virus.

He expressed;

While sequencing is important for us to understand the situation, handwashing, physical distancing and the proper use of face masks are very important to prevent the spread of the virus.

Nigeria has recorded over 150,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,800 deaths from the virus.

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