After UK, new strain of COVID-19 emerges in Nigeria

A new strain of the coronavirus dubbed the P681H variant has been discovered in Nigeria (Africa’s most populous country), Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.  

This new variant comes in the wake of new separate variants of the virus appearing both in the UK and South Africa, both of which have been found to be more transmissible than the original virus.  

John Nkengasong, head of Africa CDC has confirmed that this is a new separate variant. 

The news comes in the wake of a massive surge of cases in Nigeria. Nkengasong said there had been a 52% increase in cases in Nigeria in the past week. 

According to a working research paper, the new variant had first appeared in samples collected on August 3 and October 9 from Nigeria’s Osun state.  

Referring the UK variant, the paper states, “We haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria and do not have evidence to indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria.”

However, it also mentions, “The relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs the UK may imply a reduced power to detect such changes.” 

Nkengasong has said that the Nigeria CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in the country will be analysing more samples for the variant. 

Nigeria so far has had a total of more than 80,000 cases of the virus, with a total of 1,242 deaths due to it.