New COVID-19 variant discovered in Nigeria, 15 countries

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), has said that a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Nigeria and 15 other countries.

The new strain, B.1.2.5, which different the highly B.1.1.7 has, however, not been described as a variant of concern yet.

Disclosing this the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja, NCDC Director-General Chikwe Iheakweazu said that researchers and scientists were still working hard understand if the variant had any effect on the virus’ transmissibility, immunity as well as diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

“As we shared, a total of 54 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant strain, which a variant of concern first described in the UK, have been detected in Nigeria.

“There a new variant, the B.1.2.5, which we have begun detect in Nigeria and 15 other countries.  It is important note that this variant has not been described as a variant of concern yet.

“Researchers and scientists are still working hard understand if this variant has any effect on the virus transmissibility, immunity, as well as diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

“This is because the variant has some similar mutations with the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, respectively.”

The NCDC boss stated that the agency was scaling up its  sequencing capacity to have a better understanding of the burden of variants of concern in the country.

He noted: “Last week, we sent another 100 samples to our colleagues the ACEGID lab in Ede, and we did sequences in our lab NCDC.  

 “We to scale the weekly number of samples sequenced as part of our surveillance.”

According to him, the risk of virus mutation is higher there is high transmission of the virus. 

“While sequencing is important for us to understand the situation, handwashing, physical distancing and the use of face masks are very important to prevent the spread of the virus,” he further stressed.

The NCDC boss said that the September and October 2020 household prevalence surveys carried out in Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa and Gombe revealed the level of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies the

“The findings the survey show that the estimated prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the is 23 per cent in Lagos and Enugu , 19 per cent in Nasarawa State and 9 per cent in Gombe State.

 “We are still working on a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19 and the duration of immunity,” he said.  (NAN)