Vietnam health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said on Saturday (May 29) the country has detected a new hybrid variant of the coronavirus with characteristics of the variants first found in UK and India.
The new variant, particularly transmissible through the air, is likely to be behind the recent surge in infections in Vietnam, a country that was earlier touted as a model for epidemic containment.
“Vietnam has uncovered a new Covid-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the UK,” Nguyen Thanh Long said.
“The new variant is very dangerous,” he added.
Nguyen Thanh Long said genetic sequencing on several Covid-19 patients in Vietnam have revealed the presence of two common coronavirus variants: one first discovered in the U.K. and the other from India.
Le Thi Quynh Mai, deputy head of National Institute Of Hygiene And Epidemiology, said: "We discovered the Y144 deletion on spike protein S of the B.1.617.2 variant. This mutation is similar to the one found on the B.1.1.7 variant."
Vietnam is struggling to combat a surge in infections since late April that accounts for more than half of the total 6,713 registered cases. So far, there have been 47 deaths.
Vietnam has inoculated about 1m people since its vaccination campaign began in March.