The Head of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that there is another “mutant” variant of COVID-19, called P681H, that has been discovered in Nigeria. This comes just a week after news of the 501.V2 variant in South Africa, which has recently been discovered in the United Kingdom as well.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, December 24, the Africa CDC Head John Nkengasong said that this new variant is of a different lineage to the recent variants identified in both South Africa and the UK.
This new variant has been detected in Nigeria, but according to Nkengasong, medical authorities are yet unsure of whether it is more or less infectious. The Nigeria CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases will continue testing samples to find out more, reports Al Jazeera.
“Give us some time… it’s still very early,” Nkengasong said.
The alert of the new variant was made based on two to three differences in genetic sequence. The African leg of the CDC was prompted to meet following South Africa breaking the news of its official second wave, which is driven by the new 501.V2 variant.
This new variant has only been detected in two patients thus far, both located in Nigeria’s Oshun state. The patients with the strain were logged on August 3 and October 9, separately.
“Unlike the variant seen in the UK, we haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria and do not have evidence to indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria,” read a working research paper seen by AFP.
“However, the relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs the UK may imply a reduced power to detect such changes.”