New hybrid nCoV variant appears in Vietnam

A recombinant nCoV variant, formed by mashups of the Indian and British variants, has appeared in Vietnam. The new variant is highly transmissible and can spread widely through the air.
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Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Health of Vietnam, announced the new variants at the National video teleconference on Covid-19 situations and prevention measures in Vietnam, on the morning of May 29.

Minister Long said analysis of genome sequence in current Covid patients in Vietnam showed that two Covid variants are prevailing: the British and Indian variants. The Indian variants are the most common variants, prevailing in Bac Giang province, Bac Ninh province, and Hanoi. The British variants have appeared in Da Nang and other localities.

New hybrid nCoV variant appears in Vietnam
Photo: Testing Covid samples in laboratory / Ministry of Health

However, health experts have discovered a new variant that was a hybrid between the Indian and British variants. Specifically, the recombinant variant is an Indian variant with genetic mutations of the British variants.

"The Ministry of Health will put this new variant on the world’s genetic map in the coming time,” said Long.

The new variant has not been named or coded.

According to the Minister of Health, the most notable characteristics of the current outbreak is high transmissibility and widespread in the air. Pathogens releasing from the body also occur at a much higher rate. Results from virus cultivation in the laboratory and normal settings show that the SAR-CoV-2 loads in oropharyngeal secretions increase and transmit quickly through the air. As such, the number of new cases rises very quickly through different localities within a short period of time.

For instance, at Hosiden Corporation’s factory in Bac Giang province, where concentrates a high number of people working in a confined, poorly ventilated space, nearly 1000/4800 workers have Covid-19. This is a typical example of high transmissibility. The transmission cycle of the new variant is also very short. Within one or two days, a new cycle may appear, and the number of new cases can multiply.

New hybrid nCoV variant appears in Vietnam

Photo: Collecting specimens from workers at Hosiden / Ministry of Health

"This is a reason why the outbreaks in Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces are extremely hard to be controlled, even though we have been applying numerous strict prevention measures,” said the Minister of Health.

To date, Vietnam has recorded seven nCoV variants, including B.1.222, B.1.619, D614G, B.1.1.7 (British variants), and B.1.351, A.23.1, and B.1.617.2 (Indian variants).

The fourth wave of Covid has been breaking out since April 27. The total number of community transmission cases is 3,595 cases, recorded in 33 provinces. The five provinces and municipalities with the highest number of cases are, respectively, Bac Giang (1881), Bac Ninh (736), Hanoi (356, including 90 cases at the National Hospital Of Tropical Diseases and 50 cases at the Cancer Hospital), Da Nang (155), and Vinh Phuc (89). Ho Chi Minh City has so far recorded 69 cases, standing at sixth place.

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