A new coronavirus variant which spreads quickly by air and is comprised of a mixture of mutations found in the Kent and Indian variants has been discovered in Vietnam, local media quoted the country’s health minister as saying.
Vietnam will soon announce the new variant to the world, Nguyen Thanh Long said, according to VnExpress.
Laboratory cultures of the new and reportedly more transmissible variant revealed that the virus replicated itself very quickly – a characteristic believed to be behind a recent surge in cases in Vietnam despite the implementation of “drastic” measures, Mr Long said.
After successfully containing the coronavirus for most of last year, Vietnam is now battling an outbreak that is spreading more quickly.
Nearly 3,600 people have been infected in 31 of its 63 cities and provinces since late April, accounting for more than half of the country's total recorded infections – which until 1 April sat at just 2,617.
“After running gene sequencing on newly detected patients, we have discovered a new variant that is a mix of India and UK ones,” Nguyen Thanh Long was quoted as saying.
“More specifically, it is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant,” he said. VnExpress quoted Long as saying Vietnam would announce the newly discovered variant to the world soon.
Vietnam had previously reported seven virus variants: B.1.222, B.1.619, D614G, B.1.1.7 (the Kent variant), B.1.351, A.23.1 and B.1.617.2 (the Indian variant).
The Southeast Asian country has currently recorded 6,396 coronavirus cases so far, with 47 deaths.
According to a Reuters tally, just over one million vaccine doses have been administered in the country, accounting for 0.5 per cent of its population.
Additional reporting by Reuters