Vietnam reports new virus variant, a hybrid of strains found in India, UK

According to Media Reports, Vietnam has detected a new coronavirus hybrid variant that possesses characteristics of of the B.1.17 variant, first identified in the UK, and the B.1.6172 strain.

Genetic sequencing by the National Institute Of Hygiene And Epidemiology found at least four Covid-19 patients in the country carrying the hybrid variant, According to the VnExpress newspaper reported on Saturday.

This mutation is similar to the one found on the B.1.17 variant. 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. Vietnam Ministry of Health would announce the new coronavirus variant on the global genome map, and the new variant is not named yet.

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, According to media reports.

Vietnam has discovered a new Covid-19 variant which spreads quickly by air and is a combination of the Indian and British strains, Vietnam health officials confirmed on last Saturday.

The country is struggling to deal with fresh outbreaks across more than half of its territory, including industrial zones and big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. More than 6,800 cases including 47 deaths have been reported in Vietnam, with the lion’s share occurring since April.

“The characteristic of this strain is that it spreads quickly in the air. The concentration of virus in the throat fluid increases rapidly and spreads very strongly to the surrounding environment.”

Vietnam’s Central Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology said in a statement Saturday that its scientists had detected gene mutations in four out of 32 patient samples through gene sequencing.

There were seven known coronavirus variants in Vietnam before Long’s announcement, according to the Ministry of Health. The communist country has previously received widespread applause for its aggressive pandemic response, with mass quarantines and strict contact tracing helping keep infection rates relatively low.

The new round of infections has made the public and government fearful and authorities have quickly moved to place strict limits on movement and business activity. Cafes, restaurants, hair salons and massage parlors as well as tourism and religious spots have been ordered to close in various areas of the country.

Vietnam country with a population of 97 million people has vaccinated a little over a million citizens. Authorities have called on people and businesses to donate money to help procure vaccines, while embassies and international organizations have been contacted for assistance, state media reported.

The country presently has close to two million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine remaining, but said it is buying more than 30 million doses of the Pfizer shot. It is also in talks with Russia to produce Sputnik V, according to state media, and is working on a home-grown vaccine.

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