WHO rules out new ‘hybrid’ Covid-19 variant in Vietnam

A coronavirus variant believed by Vietnamese authorities to be a combination of the Indian and British strains is not a new hybrid, but part of the existing Indian strain, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Vietnam told Nikkei.

“There is currently no new hybrid variant in Vietnam based on the WHO definition,” Kidong Park said in an online interview with the newspaper, adding that it fell within the delta variation that originated in India.

Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first discovered in China in late 2019.

The WHO has listed four global “variants of concern” – the two first found in the UK and India, plus those in South Africa and Brazil. The agency announced Monday that Covid-19 variants must be familiar with letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid stigmatizing countries where they were first discovered.

Vietnam was initially a notable success in fighting the virus — by early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But cases have increased rapidly in the past month and now stand at more than 7,800, with 49 deaths.

( Jowharwith REUTERS, AP and AFP)

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