TOKYO | Japan is seeking to isolate a new variant of the coronavirus, recently detected in four people who arrived in the archipelago from Brazil, so that it can be further analyzed, local authorities said on Tuesday.
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This variant of SARS-CoV-2 results from an evolution of “a viral line from Brazil, which circulates in the Amazon”, provisionally called “B.1.1.28 (K417N / E484K / N501Y)”, affirmed the Brazilian researcher. Felipe Naveca, who collaborates with the Fiocruz institute.
“The results suggest that the mutation detected in the B.1.1.28 variant is a recent phenomenon, probably occurring between December 2020 and January 2021,” the institute said in a press release. Mr. Naveca is carrying out “a genomic study of people recently infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the state of Amazonas, in order to detect the circulation of this viral lineage”, he added.
An official in the Japanese Ministry of Health explained to AFP that “to further analyze the variant we must first isolate it”.
“It could take between several weeks and several months (…) so it is difficult at the moment to say when we can give details” on this variant, he added.
Japan announced on Sunday that it had detected a new variant of the coronavirus, without being able to say immediately whether it was more contagious or more dangerous than other variants already spotted in the world.
3e variant identified
It was discovered on two adults and two children who arrived in Japan on January 2 from Brazil, Japanese health authorities explained.
One of those people, a man in his 40s, was subsequently hospitalized in Japan with difficulty breathing, while a woman and one of two children, a boy, developed moderate symptoms. . The fourth person, a girl, is asymptomatic.
Japan warned the World Health Organization (WHO) this weekend about this new variant.
“The more COVID-19 spreads, the more likely it is that it will continue to develop (…). The transmissibility of certain variants of the virus seems to be increasing, ”WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented on Monday.
Not all mutations in a virus are necessarily more contagious or dangerous.
But the discoveries in December of a variant of COVID-19 highly contagious in the United Kingdom, then another in South Africa, raised serious concerns around the world, in particular casting doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines facing a possible ultra-resistant form of the coronavirus.
The Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases said the new variant discovered in Japan had similarities with those identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.