Vietnam discovers hybrid Covid variant

Vietnam discovers new coronavirus variant with UK, Indian mutations

Vietnam discovers new coronavirus variant with UK, Indian mutations

A man rides a bicycle on an empty street amid lockdown restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Hanoi on May 10.

Authorities in Vietnam have detected a new coronavirus variant that is a combination of the variants first found in India and the United Kingdom and spreads quickly by air, the health minister said on Saturday.

The India and the United Kingdom variants are the two most common ones, with the former dominating and the latter only found in Da Nang and some other localities.

The Health Ministry said the new variant is thought to be much more transmissible than the previously known types.

"More specifically, it is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belonged to the United Kingdom variant". There were seven known coronavirus strains in the country before Long's announcement on Saturday, Reuters reported. The detection of the new variant pushed the total number of variants in Vietnam to eight.

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"The new one is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the United Kingdom variant", Long was quoted as saying, adding that authorities would soon announce the name and detailed characteristics of the newly discovered variant. The latest variant does not have a name yet, but the ministry of health plans to publish genome data of it.

Vietnam was initially a standout success in battling the virus - in early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

More than 6,800 cases including 47 deaths have been reported in Vietnam, with the lion's share occurring since April. Hundreds of thousands of people work there to manufacture goods for big tech companies including Samsung, Canon and Apple. The country's aggressive social distancing policies and experience with prior epidemics were seen as effective measures in stopping the spread.

Vietnam, a country of 97million people, has vaccinated one million people with AstraZeneca shots and it sealed a deal with Pfizer last week for 30million doses, which are set to be delivered in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Vietnam has since ordered a nationwide ban on all religious events.

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