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Hybrid of UK and Indian coronavirus variants found in Vietnam – health minister

“After running gene sequencing on newly detected patients, we have discovered a new variant that is a mix of India and UK ones,” Vietnam’s Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at a government meeting on Saturday, online newspaper VnExpress reported.

“More specifically, it is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant,” the minister said, adding that the government would soon “announce the new coronavirus variant on the global genome map.”

The country’s health ministry recorded 87 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday. Overall, Vietnam has had 5,164 locally transmitted cases and 1,492 imported cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the government. A 22-year-old woman died from Covid-19 on Thursday night, raising the death toll from the virus to 47.

Vietnam plans to use 100 million doses of the vaccine to inoculate 70% of its population that is over 18 years old, and reach herd immunity this year. In May, the World Health Organization assured that the existing vaccines have proven to be effective against all known Covid-19 variants. 

The UK variant, also known as the B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain, was first detected in England late last year and is more transmissible than the regular SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

The transmission rates for the B.1.617.2 strain, which was first recorded in India, were roughly two-thirds higher than for the UK variant, BBC reported, citing Public Health England.

The spread of the Indian variant on British soil prompted Germany and France to introduce tougher quarantine rules for travelers from the UK this month. 

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