Early this year, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Africa reached over 3.3 million, and the number of COVID-19 daily cases in the continent escalated. Amidst this inexplicable increase in the number of daily cases, new variants of COVID-19 were discovered in at least 5 African countries, and the new variant is said to include a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells.
While research is ongoing on the new covid variant, there is no evidence showing it is more deadly. Scientists have so far observed that the strain seems to infect more easily, and as a result, plans to mitigate the impact of the new variants may not fit into the present prevention and treatment healthcare structure we have in Africa.
To implement strict measures to stop the spread of the new strain, we will need to revamp the existing COVID-19 healthcare structure and guidelines to tackle any ill effects these new variants may have upon us.
Meanwhile, below is a list of the African countries that have so far reported new variants of COVID-19.
Botswana’s government had announced earlier this year that a new and easily transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus discovered in South Africa is now present in Botswana.
This new variant was found when the number of COVID-19 cases in Botswana unexpectedly increased just after the 501V2 variant was detected in South Africa.
Botswana citizens are advised against neglecting COVID-19 protocols as this new variant is easily transmissible than the existing one and its effects are still not well known.
Last week, Ghanaian scientists discovered a new variant of Covid-19 after a series of virus genome sequencing.
This new strain was noticed when international passengers that arrived at the Ghanaian airport tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant.
Since then, isolation and contact tracing has been going on to test for citizens who may be carrying this new COVID-19 variant as the daily number of COVID infections in the country increases sharply.
Two weeks ago, Kenya reported another new COVID -19 strain discovered after the Kenya Medical Research Institute, KEMRI, conducted the study.
This variant is unique to Kenya, and it was detected in a batch of samples taken from Taita Taveta county, a place in southeastern Kenya.
There are currently up to 100,000 cases and over 1,700 Covid-19 deaths in Kenya with strains of the new variants present in recent cases.
Nigeria was the first country in Africa and globally to record a new COVID-19 variant known as the P681H.
It was discovered a month after the coronavirus reached its peak in Africa in July 2020 in two patient samples collected between August and October.
This new variant is causing unclarity among researchers in the country as the number of COVID-19 daily cases recently escalated. Nigerian scientists and researchers are still unsure if this surge in cases is due to the infection from the new variant (P681H) or the existing COVID-19 variant (SARS-CoV-2).
Nevertheless, there is still much research ongoing to unravel this and mitigate any impact this new COVID-19 variant may have in the country.
On 18 December 2020, South Africa’s health ministry reported an indigenous and new COVID-19 variant named 501.V2, discovered in their country.
This COVID variant, 501.V2, of South Africa has been making lots of headlines due to the increasing number of cases in the country and outside it.
It has since been detected in three other African countries, namely Botswana, Zambia, and The Gambia. It’s fast-spreading and has been creating lots of concerns about the severity it is likely to pose globally.
It’s not unusual to have virus mutations, and the COVID-19 virus isn’t an exception.
While we still don’t have sufficient knowledge about this new COVID-19 variant in Africa, it’s advisable to follow all health-related guidelines when moving/travelling to any of the listed countries to avoid being victims of the new strain.