Another mutant form of the coronavirus is discovered in Nigeria after new strains were found in South Africa and the UK
- A third new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in Nigeria, doctors say
- The mutant strain is different from those discovered in the UK and South Africa
- However, medical professionals are unsure of the effects the exposure might have as studies are ongoing
- Both strains found in the UK and South Africa are considered to be more contagious
Another new variant of the coronavirus has emerged in Nigeria, Africa's senior health official said.
John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the existence of the new tribe on Thursday – it is different from those recently found in the UK and South Africa.
But he added that it was too early to say what impact the new variant might have, saying that scientists needed "more time" to study it.
This strain emerged when Nigeria is reporting a record number of coronavirus cases – with 1,133 on Wednesday – although it's not clear whether the new strain will have an impact on the total.
Nigeria has reported a record number of coronavirus cases in the past few days, among which a new strain of coronavirus has emerged
Deaths within the African nation – the most populous on the continent – have also increased in recent days, despite not getting close to the first wave peak
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, reported just five deaths from the virus on Wednesday, well below its peak in the first wave.
Coroanvirus variants routinely appear in the spread of the virus, but those in the UK and South Africa have been widely reported as scientists believe they are significantly more contagious than previous strains.
New variants could also affect the ability of vaccines to fight the virus, although the UK or South African variant is unlikely to do so.
The possible effects of the Nigerian variant on vaccines are so far unclear. "Give us some time," urged Dr. Nkengasong. "It's very early."
The warning about the seemingly new variant was based on two or three genetic sequences, he said, but that and the warning from South Africa late last week were enough to trigger an emergency Africa CDC meeting this week.
Dr. Nkengasong said the Nigerian CDC and the African Center of Excellence in Infectious Disease Genomics will analyze additional samples.
The news comes as infections pick up again in parts of the African continent.
The new variant in South Africa is the predominant one there, Nkengasong said, as confirmed infections in the country are approaching a million.
While the variant transmits quickly and the viral load is higher, it is not yet clear whether it leads to more severe disease, he added.
"We believe this mutation will have no impact on the use of Covid-19 vaccines on the continent," he said of the South African variant.
In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, a new variant of the coronavirus has emerged, which differs from the variants in the UK and South Africa
The South African health minister announced an "alarming rate of spread" late Wednesday. More than 14,000 new cases were confirmed last day, including more than 400 deaths.
The country has more than 950,000 infections and Covid-19 is "relentless," Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement.
The African continent has more than 2.5 million confirmed cases, or 3.3% of the world's cases. Infections across the continent have increased 10.9% in the past four weeks, including a 52% increase in Nigeria and 40% in South Africa, according to Nkengasong.
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