Vietnam has discovered a new Covid-19 variant which is a combination of the existing Indian and UK variants and might spread more quickly by air, the country’s health minister said on Saturday.
Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said genetic sequencing on several Covid-19 patients in Vietnam revealed the presence of a variant which combines characteristics common to the two strains, according to Vietnamese news website VNExpress.
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In the recording of a government meeting heard by Reuters, the health minister said: “Vietnam has uncovered a new COVID-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the UK.
“That the new one is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant is very dangerous.”
Long said the Ministry of Health would soon publish the new coronavirus variant on the global genome map.
Vietnam has been battling a new wave of infections since late April, which caused more than 3,500 positive cases, after successfully containing the virus last year.
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Long warned laboratory cultures of the new variant showed the virus replicated itself very quickly, especially in the air, possibly explaining the recent spike in cases.
The World Health Organization, which has identified four variants of SARS-CoV-2 of global concern – in India, Britain, South Africa and Brazil – has not yet responded to reports of the variant identified in Vietnam.