Vietnam has discovered a new coronavirus variant that’s a hybrid of strains first found in India and Britain, the Vietnamese Health Minister has said.
Nguyen Thanh Long said scientists examined the genetic make-up of the virus that had infected some recent patients and found the new version of the virus.
He said lab tests suggested it might spread more easily than other versions of the virus.
Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce.
The World Health Organisation has listed four global “variants of concern” — the two first found in Britain and India, plus ones identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Mr Long says the new variant could be responsible for a recent surge in Vietnam, which has spread to 30 of the country’s 63 municipalities and provinces.
Vietnam was initially a stand-out success in battling the virus but in the past few weeks has confirmed more than 3500 new cases and 12 deaths, increasing the its total death toll to 47.
Vietnam vaccinated one million people with AstraZeneca shots.
Last week, it sealed a deal with Pfizer for 30 million doses, scheduled to be delivered this year.
It is also in talks with Moderna to supply enough jabs to fully vaccine 80 per cent of its 96 million people.