A new COVID-19 variant might have emerged in Nigeria, a top African Union health official told reporters Thursday.
“It’s a separate lineage from the U.K. and South Africa,” the head of the African Union’s Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said Thursday, speaking of the probable mutation, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Nkengasong added that the Nigerian CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases would further investigate additional samples to ascertain the possibly new COVID-19 variant’s nature. “Give us some time… it’s still very early,” he said, AP reported. (RELATED: New COVID Strain Found In South Africa)
Africa’s top public health official says another new variant of the coronavirus appears to have emerged in Nigeria, but further investigation is needed. https://t.co/h0h5iJKA1T
— AP Africa (@AP_Africa) December 24, 2020
The Nigerian mutation was discovered in two patient samples collected in the country’s Osun state on Aug. 3 and Oct. 9, according to a working research paper the AP accessed.
Unlike the British mutation, “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, the relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs. the U.K. may imply a reduced power to detect such changes,” the paper stated, according to AP.
The news comes as Nigerian and South African COVID-19 cases are surging in Africa. Last week, Nigeria reported a 52% increase in cases and South Africa reported a 40% increase, Reuters reported.
South Africa and Great Britain are two other countries where new COVID-19 mutations have been identified, with several countries shutting off their borders to the United Kingdom after the British mutation’s discovery.
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Monday that the British variant might have already entered the United States, due to international travel between the two countries.