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Vietnam identifies new hybrid of 2 COVID-19 variants



A new COVID-19 variant that is a hybrid of the variants first found in India and the United Kingdom, has been discovered in Vietnam..

Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long who disclosed this to government officials weekend, said scientists found the new variant after examining the genetic makeup of the virus that had infected some recent patients.

He noted that the new variant might be responsible for the latest surge in India.

Long said lab tests suggest the hybrid may spread more easily than other versions of the virus.

“Vietnam has uncovered a new COVID-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the U.K.

“That the new one is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant is very dangerous.”

He said the new variant is more transmissible in the air and that scientists observed its ability to replicate quickly in lab cultures. The genome data of the unnamed variant may be publish soon.

Vietnam is currently grappling with a rise in infections since late April that accounts for more than half of the total registered cases.

The Southeast Asian country had previously detected seven virus variants: B.1.222, B.1.619, D614G, B.1.1.7 – the variant first found in UK, B.1.351, A.23.1 and B.1.617.2 – the one detected in India.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Lead for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said: “At the present time, we have not yet made an assessment of the virus variant reported in Vietnam.

“Our country office is working with the Ministry of Health in Vietnam and we expect more information soon.”

WHO said the variant detected in Vietnam was the B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, possibly with an additional mutation, she said.

“However, we will provide more information as soon as we receive it,” Van Kerkhove added.

The health ministry told the meeting the government was working to secure 10 million vaccine doses under the COVAX cost-sharing scheme, as well as a further 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 40 million of Russia’s Sputnik V.

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