Japan finds new Coronavirus variant | Daily News

Japan finds new Coronavirus variant

Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said it had detected a new variant of the Coronavirus in four travelers arriving from Brazil.

The newly-discovered mutant strain of COVID-19 was found to share some of the mutations in common with those of concern for increased infectivity, the institute said, referring to highly infectious strains recently discovered in the U.K. and South Africa.

However, at this time any information about the new variant is limited to its genetic make-up, the NIID said. The institute added it is difficult to immediately determine how infectious the new strain is and the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

Japan’s identification of a new variant of the virus comes as countries scramble to contain two other contagious variants that have emerged in the U.K. and South Africa. Public health experts have expressed concern the new strains could pose a threat to inoculation efforts.

To be sure, while the variants discovered in Britain and South Africa spread more easily, there is no clear evidence of the mutated viruses being associated with more severe disease outcomes. But being more transmissible means more people can get infected, and this could mean more serious infections and more fatalities. In recent weeks, optimism about the mass rollout of COVID vaccines appears to have been tempered by the resurgent rate of virus spread worldwide.

On January 6, Japan’s NIID detected a new mutant strain of COVID in four passengers arriving from Brazil’s Amazonas state on Jan. 2. The variant of the virus discovered in Japan belongs to the B.1.1.248 strain and has 12 mutations in the spike protein, the NIID said.

Japan’s Health Ministry said studies were underway to determine the effectiveness of Coronavirus vaccines against the new variant, Reuters reported citing an unnamed ministry official. - (CNBC)