• The identification of a new Covid variant arrives when nations mess up in containing two other contagious strains that have emerged within the U.K. and South Africa.
• Public health experts expressed worries as the new strains could create a danger to inoculation efforts.
• Optimism about the mass rollout of coronavirus vaccines seems to have been humbled by the resurgent rate of virus spread worldwide in recent weeks.
LONDON — Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases on Sunday said it had detected a replacement variant of the coronavirus in four travelers coming back from Brazil.
The institute said the newly discovered mutant strain of Covid-19 was seen to have a similar number of the mutations with those of concern for increased infectivity, about highly infectious variants recently discovered within the U.K. and South Africa.
However, at this point any information about the new variant is restricted to its genetic makeup, the NIID said. The institute added it's difficult to right away determine how infectious the new strain is and therefore the effectiveness of vaccines against it.
A new Covid variant was found in Japan.
CNBC has reached the World Health Organization to verify whether it's been told about the new mutant strain of the virus. The United Nations health agency wasn't immediately available to reply on Tuesday.
The WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later said during a press briefing on Monday that the agency had been alerted over the weekend of a replacement coronavirus mutation found in Japan. The new, contagious strains are highly problematic in his opinion if burdened hospitals are already under intense pressure.
“The more the virus spreads, the higher the chance of the latest changes to the virus,” Tedros said at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
Japan’s identification of a replacement variant of the virus comes when nations mess up in containing two other contagious strains that have emerged within the U.K. and South Africa.
Specifically, as the strains discovered in the UK and South Africa spread faster, there's no clear evidence of the mutated viruses being related to more severe disease outcomes. However, if it is easier to be transmitted, more people might get it and this might mean more serious infections and added fatalities.
Optimism about the mass rollout of Covid vaccines appears to have been humbled by the resurgent rate of virus spread worldwide in recent weeks.
What can we realize about the new variant?
On Jan. 6, Japan’s NIID detected a replacement mutant strain of Covid in four passengers coming back from Brazil’s Amazonas state on Jan. 2. One female in her 30s reported pharyngitis and headache, one male aged between 10 and 19 recorded a fever and one girl over the age of 10 was asymptomatic.
New cases Covid-19 in Japan.
What about the strains discovered within the UK and South Africa?
Health authorities within the U.K. reported a variant to the WHO identified as SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 on December 14. It's unclear how the new strain originated, but more findings have determined it's highly transmissible.
It initially appeared in southeast England, but within a couple of weeks, the variant of the virus had already begun to replace other virus lineages in some areas of the country.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, “The situation has become increasingly troubling nationwide and that we have a robust sense of crisis.” As he announced the new restriction, he added that the measures were essential to control an “increasingly troubling” third wave of infections. In addition to the measures, medical items such as protective suits and disposable gloves, especially medical masks, need to be supplied to the citizens, he added. Recognizing the necessity of medical support during this unprecedented time, MAZA has given its attention to developing technology and enhancing quality so that the products can reach citizens in every part of the world. The spread of this deadly virus may be contained significantly with their products.
The country has recorded 290,200 cases of the coronavirus, with 3,850 related deaths to date, consistent with data compiled by Johns Hopkins University