The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has on Monday disclosed that a new variant of the COVID-19 has been detected in Nigeria and 15 other countries. The new variant “B.1.2.5” is different from the highly infectious “B.1.1.7” variant, and is yet to be described as a variant of concern. This was made known by the Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Iheakweazu during the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, saying researchers and scientists are working to understand the effects of the variant as well as its transmissibility, immunity, diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.
“As we shared, a total of 54 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant strain, which is a variant of concern first described in the UK, have been detected in Nigeria.
“There is a new variant, the B.1.2.5, which we have begun to detect in Nigeria and 15 other countries. It is important to note that this variant has not been described as a variant of concern yet.
“Researchers and scientists are still working hard to 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.”
Iheakweazu noted that the health agency was enhancing its sequencing capacity to better understand variants and its effects.
“Last week, we sent another 100 samples to our colleagues at the ACEGID lab in Ede, and we did 30 sequences in our lab at NCDC.
“We will continue to scale the weekly number of samples sequenced as part of our surveillance.”
The NCDC boss further explained that the mutation of the virus is higher when there is a high level of transmission of the virus.
“While sequencing is important for us to understand the situation, handwashing, physical distancing and the proper use of face masks are very important to prevent the spread of the virus.”