Vietnam has detected in your country a new variant of coronavirus, not registered until now, and that could be much more contagious than the original because it is a mix between the Indian and British strain.

The existence of a new hybrid variant was confirmed this Saturday by the Vietnamese authorities, focused on curbing the worst wave of infections which the Southeast Asian country has had to face up to now.

And it is that Vietnam has managed to contain the spread of the virus that, since the beginning of the pandemic, adds a total of 7,168 infections (almost half are of this new variant) and 47 deaths. This new strain, therefore, represents a threat to that control that they have managed to maintain until just a few weeks ago and with just over one million citizens (out of a population of 96 million) vaccinated against Covid-19. This is what is known at the moment about this new variant:

Why is it hybrid?

It is given this adjective by combining characteristics of the variant that emerged in India and with the one previously detected in the United Kingdom. In the words of the Vietnamese Minister of Health, Nguyen Thanh Long, “More specifically, it is the Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the British variant”.

The genome data has not yet been made public, but Long has already announced that he would release it in the next few days. The World Health Organization (WHO), waiting to obtain more information, assured this Sunday that the variant detected in Vietnam would be India (B1617), but “possibly with an additional mutation”, indicated the technical leader, Maria Van Kerkhove.

That “additional” mutation, therefore, and as confirmed by the Vietnamese authorities on Saturday, would be the British one.

“Very dangerous” and especially contagious through the air

Confirming his detection, Nguyen Thanh Long described this variant as “very dangerous” due to its high transmissibility. Specifically, the minister of Vietnam explained that it is especially fast through the air. “The concentration of virus in the throat and in the saliva increases rapidly and it spreads rapidly in a nearby environment, “Long said.

Image of a cell (green) infected by SARS-CoV-2 virions (blue)

Like all variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that have been detected in the last year, it is concerned about its potential ability to circumvent the vaccine or reduce its effectiveness. But for now they are focusing on trying to contain the transmission, much higher por combine characteristics of two of the most contagious strains detected up to now.

WHO has so far classified four variants of “world concern”: B117 (British), B1351 (South African), P1 (Brazilian) and B1617 (Indian). For now, they do not include this new one, which would combine the two most expanded, until they have carried out an evaluation on the risks and transmissibility of this new strain detected in Vietnam.

How was it detected?

The new version was discovered by investigating the genome sequence of the virus in some new infected in the Indochinese nation, a screening carried out mainly to find out the cause of the rapid spread of the virus in recent weeks.

Yet have not specified the exact number of confirmed cases (although local media claim that it represents more than half of the total infected) or if the strain originated in the country itself or, on the contrary, it is an imported variant.

What steps are they taking?

The Vietnamese authorities have put in place a series of measures and tough restrictions to curb transmission. For example, the inhabitants of the most populous city in Vietnam, Ho Chin Minh City, must comply with a series of social distancing measures (two meters) for at least two weeks since Monday. I know They also suspend all kinds of social events, meetings are limited to 10 people and a general recommendation is issued to all citizens: do not leave home, except essential activities, in the next few weeks.

In order to detect new infections and thus cut transmission chains, the Government has also carried out a massive screening campaign. They will virus testing of 13 million inhabitants housed in Ho Chi Minh, by collecting around 100,000 samples a day in the coming weeks

Regarding mobility, the country has also decided shield the borders of your capital from foreign travelers. From this Tuesday, Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport will stop receiving foreign travelers. A measure that they intend to maintain Until june 7th and that contemplates certain exceptions, such as the legacy of Vietnamese, diplomats or qualified workers, among others, who must keep 21 days of quarantine.

Has it been detected in other countries?

For now, no country has announced the detection of this variant in its territory, because until just two days ago its existence was not known.


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