Nigerian Virologist Says More COVID-19 Variants May Emerge

Yemisi Izuora

A Nigerian scientist, Sunday Omilabu, who is also the director of the Center for Human and Zoonotic Virology at the Lagos University College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital has warned that the world may see more variants or mutations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omilabu made this known in an interview with Associated Press, AP.  

He said that he spent the Yuletide holiday  in his laboratory; performing genetic sequencing to learn more about Nigeria’s COVID-19 variant. He told AP that the information he gathers about the variant will help battle the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

However, he has warned that the world must brace up for more COVID-19 variants.

“I think we need to calm our mind down, there are going to be more variants to come. We need to be monitoring the virus. We need to sequence. If we sequence, then we would have more information about what is in circulation…Then, of course, we need to continue with surveillance.

‘‘We need to monitor how active the virus is in the environment … so the public health experts, they have work to do and then government must support all these.”

The virologist, says the variants in the UK and South Africa are different from the one discovered in Nigeria.

“The variants discovered in the U.K. and South Africa. They are distantly different from the variants discovered in Nigeria.

“What we could say clinically is that we have more people coming down with severe signs and symptoms. That shows us that something is happening. There’s a surge so we are recording that but we are yet to sequence any of those isolates.”

He disclosed that this is important in order to determine if the increased transmissions are caused by the variant.

Nigeria is battling a significant increase in the transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is in the grip of a second wave which has seen casualties rise among the aged.

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