Vietnam detects hybrid of Indian and UK COVID-19 variant

People inside a quarantine area in Hanoi as the country battles its fourth wave

Now, Vietnamese health authorities say they have identified a new strain of the virus after running genetic sequencing on several COVID-19 patients, one that blends mutations from the variant discovered in India as well as the one identified in the UK.

But a new coronavirus variant has recently been detected in Vietnam with characteristics from both the United Kingdom and the Indian variants.

The U.K. variant is believed to be more transmissible than ordinary strains, while the Indian variant is both more transmissible and potentially less susceptible to neutralizing antibodies of the immune system, experts said. "The concentration of virus in the throat fluid increases rapidly and spreads very strongly to the surrounding environment", Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long told local reporters.

VnExpress, an online news site in Vietnam, quoted Mr Long as saying a name would be given to the new variant soon, as well as more detailed information about it.

But in the last few weeks, the country has confirmed more than 3,500 new cases and 12 more deaths. Despite strict health regulations, a company in Bac Giang discovered that one fifth of its 4,800 workers had tested positive for the virus.

More than 3,600 COVID infections have been reported across Vietnam since the end of April alone.

Vietnam has sought to speed up its vaccination campaign, having administered over 1 million doses to its population of around 98 million.

It is also in talks with Russian Federation to produce Sputnik V, according to state media, and is working on a home-grown vaccine.

Worshippers were said to have sung and chanted while sitting close together, without wearing proper masks or taking other precautions.

So far, Vietnam has recorded the presence of seven coronavirus variants, including ones from the U.K, India and South Africa.

"Principally speaking, it should not be called the Thai variant because the infected person is from overseas", said Opas Kankawinpong, head of Thailand's disease control department.

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