A group of scientists in Kenya have discovered coronavirus variant that they say is different from the one in South Africa and Britain.
A total of 10 scientists from Kenya Medical Research Institution KEMRI have raised the alarm over the mutation of the virus responsible for Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to VOA, principal investigator and researcher, Charles Agoti, said that the variant unique to Kenya was detected in a batch of samples taken from Taita Taveta county.
“Our interpretation is that because in this one place in Kenya we were seeing, it represents the majority of the sequenced samples; it does imply that actually, it could if it has intrinsic properties, be more transmissible,” Agoti said. “It could result in an increase in the number of cases locally.”
This was from a sample of around 205 genomes collected from the coastal region and further identified around 16 circulating mutations all of which have so far been proven harmless.
Agoti says that the variant will not at this stage have an impact on the effectiveness of new coronavirus vaccines.
“I think it’s unlikely this is just only one change in the about 1,200 amino acids-long spike protein, so still there are very many other bits of the virus which the current vaccines target and can be able to neutralize the virus effectively,” Agoti said.
The world health organization raised concerned that the variants which are on the rise in 47 African counties may have a negative impact on people’s immune and therefore needs to be investigated further.
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Britain committed to assist Kenya prepare for the roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Astrazeneca and Oxford University.
“It is for us not just our moral duty, but in the British national interest to see Kenyans vaccinated just as soon as we physically, logistically can,” Dominic Raab told a news conference during a visit to Nairobi.
So far, Kenya has recorded over 99,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections with 0ver 1734 Kenyans having succumbed to the virus. Kenya is among countries that have recorded high number of Covid-19 infections in the East African region.