The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced that a new variant of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been detected in Nigeria.
The new variant, dubbed B.1.525, was announced by Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday.
According to Ihekweazu, the new variant was first discovered in a sample collected on November 23 from a patient in Lagos State.
He said the B.1.525 variant, which has spread to a few other countries, has not been classified as a variant of concern.
“So far, this has been detected among cases in five states in Nigeria. B.1.525 cases have also been reported in other countries in travellers from Nigeria,” he said.
Ihekweazu said researchers and scientists are working hard to understand if the variant has any impact on transmissibility, severity, immunity, diagnostic and already approved vaccines.
The B.1.525 variant contains a genetic change called E484K, also found in the Brazilian and South African variants, according to the BBC.
The variant has been seen in other countries like Denmark and the United States.
Iheakwazu also disclosed that Nigeria has now confirmed 54 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant within its borders.
The B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and has spread to over 80 countries in the world.
He said: “We have confirmed 54 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant between November 2020 and February 2021.
“That is a significant number out of the 400 we have sequenced since the beginning of the outbreak.”
The NCDC boss said scientists are monitoring the strain to understand its circulation rates in the country.