Vietnam has discovered a new coronavirus variant

The variant is a hybrid of the strains first found in India (B.1.6172) and the United Kingdom (B.1.17)

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 01 June 2021

Vietnam has discovered a new variant of the novel coronavirus. It is a hybrid of the strains first found in India (B.1.6172) and the United Kingdom (B.1.17).

The variant is yet to be recorded by the GISAID, the global initiative focused on sharing the information about the virus.

Vietnam's Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long described the latest mutation as "very dangerous" and said the variant is more transmissible and can replicate itself very quickly. The ministry also reported that they will make the genetic code of the virus available soon.

Thousands of mutations have been detected since the virus was first identified in January 2020. The WHO has classified variants found in India, South Africa, Brazil and UK as “variants of global concern”.

There is no existing evidence that any coronavirus mutations can cause more serious illness for the vast majority of people. But the new variant being more infectious and equally dangerous may lead to more deaths in an unvaccinated population.

Vietnam — a country of 97 million people — has vaccinated a little over a million citizens. It is now ramping up its vaccination and hopes to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year. 

The country had previously received widespread applause for its aggressive pandemic response to keep infection rates relatively low. Vietnam has registered more than 6,700 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and more than half of them have been recorded since late April this year. It has also recorded 47 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University database.

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