Amid rising cases of the deadly COVID 19 infections in Nigeria, the federal government says Nigeria has recorded 54 cases of the United Kingdom’s (UK) variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID 19 on Monday, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, the b117 variant, which was first detected in the UK, is now the dominant strain circulating in the United Kingdom.
Ihekweazu said: “Concerning the updates on the variants of concern, at the moment, last week, the update so far is that we have had 54 cases of the b117 variant – the variants of concern first detected in the United Kingdom, which is now the dominant strain; almost 100 per cent of the circulating strain in the UK are made up of these variants.
“We found 54 of them between November and February – that is a significant number out of those we have sequenced. We have sequenced about 400 altogether since the beginning of the outbreak. We continue to watch that strain and understand how much it is circulating in Nigeria.
“There were reports on a new strain b1525, which we began to detect in Nigeria and a few other countries. It is important to note that this variant has not been classified as a variant of concern. Researchers and scientists are still working hard to understand if this variant has any impact on transmissibility, severity, immunity, diagnostics of vaccines or therapeutics, but we haven’t found any yet,” he added.
The NCDC DG added that 80 to 90 per cent of residents in Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, and Gombe states are still susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, according to the recent COVID-19 Household Seroprevalence Surveys carried out by the NCDC and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
He noted that results of the survey also showed that there are higher rates of infection in urban areas compared to rural settlements, with persons aged 18-64 years being more infected.
He, therefore, stated that 100,000 representative samples will be sent weekly to the Africa Centre for Excellence in Genomics in Ede for sequencing, even as it continues to improve the country’s sequencing capacity.