Kenya: Scientists find new COVID-19 variant, says vaccine effectiveness remains same

“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."

Devdiscourse News Desk | Nairobi | Updated: 20-01-2021 13:19 IST | Created: 20-01-2021 13:10 IST
Kenya: Scientists find new COVID-19 variant, says vaccine effectiveness remains same
Representative Image. Image Credit: Pixabay

Varying from the mutated variant spread in Britain and South Africa, scientists in Kenya have raised concern on another COVID-19 variant responsible for the spread of COVID-19, according to a report by Citizen Digital.

Subjected to the upsurge of the pandemic, reportedly ten researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) have discovered the mutated COVID-19 variant.

As said by the prime researcher and investigator, Charles Agoti, the different COVID-19 variant was detected in one of the batches of the sample obtained from the southeastern part of Kenya, 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," said Agoti. He further mentioned that "it could result in an increase in the number of cases locally."

As reported, KEMRI sequences over 205 genomes between June to October in the coastal region and identified over 16 circulating mutations. All the discovered mutations have said to be harmless, it added.

Further adding Agoti also mentioned that the mutated variant at this stage does not reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. "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 neutralise the virus effectively," said Agoti.

However, according to the World Health Organization, the discovered variants in the 47 countries of Africa could impact one's immune response that could be further investigated.

Being a worldwide concern, WHO representative in Kenya, Rudi Eggers said that the mutated variants are a matter of concern.

"So, the vaccines as far as we can say will still be effective as far as we can notice at the moment, but this is very early days, and we will have to do more research on that, but early indications deem that the vaccines that are generally available against this virus are still holding and still are protective; but it's possible that actually there will be a decrease in the efficacy of the vaccine," Eggers said.


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