Ghana has been listed among countries in Africa where a new variant of the COVID-19 is spreading.
The continental health body, the Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC), made this known in a statement issued on Friday, January 29, 2021, stating that the new variant is "more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with high viral shedding."
The Africa CDC said a total of three new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been identified across the world; 501Y/VUI – 202012/01 in the United Kingdom, 501Y.V2 in South Africa, and 501Y.V3 in Brazil.
While stating that it has not fully covered the extent of spread of the new variants in Africa, it, however, can confirm that the 501Y.V2 variant which was first discovered in South Africa, is the one in Ghana.
The new variant, the statement added, is currently spreading in 22 countries across the world.
In Africa, apart from Ghana, the countries with confirmed infections of the new variant first discovered in South Africa are Botswana and Zambia.
"Preliminary findings show that three new similar but distinct Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants, the 501Y/VUI – 202012/01, 501Y.V2, 501Y.V3, reported in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, respectively, are significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with high viral shedding observed among cases. There is currently limited data on the extent to which these new variants have spread in Africa, but preliminary data show that the 501Y.V2 variant has been reported in 22 countries globally including South Africa, Ghana, Botswana, and Zambia," the CDC's statement said.
Earlier, SA scientists had said that the new variant is 50% more contagious than the previous strains with the Africa CDC saying that it is currently working to map out the regional spread of all three variants as well as support local laboratories to address the emerging SARS-CoV-2 sequencing needs.
It also said that it is working to ensure the availability of geographically representative and timely data on the new variant, which it revealed is fast spreading due to the second wave of COVID-19 being experienced by at least 40 countries on the continent.