Written by Sola Ogundipe
The federal government is investigating claims by Nigerian scientists that a mutated coronavirus recently discovered in the United Kingdom (UK) has existed in Nigeria for several months.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Working Group (PTF) for COVID-19, dr. Sani Aliyu, who discovered this, said PTF was in contact with scientists from the University of the Redeemer, Nigeria, in Ede, Osun state, who conducted studies that discovered the UK mutant coronavirus variant “lineage B.1.1.7”.
Aliyu said Professor Christian Happi, a professor of molecular biology and genomics, and another scientist, Ify Aniebo, both from the African Center of Excellence for Infectious Disease Genomics, Redeemer University, Nigeria, reported collecting samples from Osun State in August and October. both showed the presence of a new variant.
“We have invited Professor Happy to seek further clarification in this regard, and we are also in talks with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC.
“What is really vital at this stage is to perform sequencing immediately. I know that the sequencing that Professor Happi’s group has done in the past involved about 250 samples, so that’s really small.
“What we have to do, and most of the things he did, was in August or September. So, we are much further now and we have to ensure that we distribute as many outlets as we have now, ”Aliyu said.
With the help of development fears, the PTF coordinator stated that it is not unusual for coronavirus strains to replicate very quickly, although he emphasized that the new UK version can now be found in other countries.
“Just to alleviate public anxiety, a strain that has been described in the UK and now in South Africa, Australia and some other countries; what has been shown to be more portable.
“But there is no human epidemiological link that suggests it is currently more deadly and is certainly, with coronaviruses, always changing. Therefore, if, for example, you catch a cold and recover, the next day if you see someone who has a cold, it is equally likely that you will go down with it.
“These are strains that continue to replicate very quickly. It is therefore not surprising that we have the new strain currently described. But there are still early days in terms of science, and even within the UK, there is still a lot of debate about how different it is from previous species.
“We are not trying to say that we should ignore the problem. Yesterday we had a very long discussion at PTF; a debate that lasted more than an hour, and various aspects were discussed, and we will continue to follow it very closely.
“We have already asked Professor Happy to provide us with additional clarifications as they also worked for the NCDC,” he noted.
Vanguard News Nigeria