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Kenyan Researchers on the Lookout for Covid Variant

Kenyan medical researchers say a unique Covid-19 variant discovered in the country doesn’t have sufficient mutations to be assigned a lineage. The variant has “one change that is suspected to be of significance”, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) principal researcher Dr Charles Agoti said. Variants in SA and the UK had eight and nine changes, respectively, he said. “We are resisting calling this a new variant because it doesn’t have many changes.” The variant was observed in sequencing rounds carried out between March and June and another that ended in October 2020. It showed the unique change in an important protein spike in the second study, he said. The change is unlikely to have an effect on the effectiveness of existing vaccines, and the Kemri scientists are still studying whether the variant is more transmissible, Agoti said. Researchers discovered 10 variants in the first round and 20 in the subsequent one, 16 of which were being seen in Kenya for the first time.