COVID-19 “Nigeria variant”: NO cause for alarm from initial data

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By Daniel R. Lucey MD, MPH, FIDSA

The following five reasons support why there is no cause for alarm regarding the “Nigeria variant” announced Thursday (Dec. 24). In contrast with the two different virus variants linked separately with increasing cases in the UK and South Africa, the variant in Nigeria has:

  • NOT been linked with the increasing cases in Nigeria;
  • NOT been found in hundreds of persons in multiple locations. Instead, it has been found so far in only two patients in Osun State, (south-western Nigeria) one August 3 and the other Oct. 9;
  • NOT been found to have the N501Y mutation that is found in both the South African and the UK variants, and that may increase binding to the human cell receptor (ACE2);
  • NOT been found to contain any of the other 22 mutations reported in the UK variant beyond the SINGLE mutation “P681H” in the spike (S) protein near the furin cleavage site.
  • NOT been found to contain any of the 3 mutations in the South African variant’s Receptor Binding Domain.

On Wednesday, (Dec. 23) data were posted online at virological.org in a report titled: “Detection of SARS-CoV-2 P681H Spike Variant in Nigeria.”

The named co-authors are: Christian Happi, PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genomics, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria Director, African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases [ACEGID]; Chikwe Ihekweazu, M.P.H, F.F.P.H, Director-General, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control [NCDC], Abuja, Nigeria; John Nkengasong, PhD, Director-General, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (AfDCD), Addis-Abeba, Ethiopia; Paul Eniola Oluniyi, MSc, (PhD in view), African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria; Idowu Olawoye, MSc, (PhD in view), African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria.

Dr. Daniel Lucey

Daniel Lucey, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FACP, is a Clinical Professor of Medicine (Teaching) at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, adjunct Professor at Georgetown Medical Center, senior scholar at Georgetown Law, Anthropology Research Associate at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee. He served as a volunteer to outbreaks overseas including patient care in Sierra Leone and Liberia (MSF) during Ebola 2014, SARS 2003, MERS 2013, Plague 2017 as well as H5N1, Zika, and Yellow Fever. Since Jan. 6 he has contributed more than 50 posts to Science Speaks on COVID-19 and traveled to China Feb. 11. With career experiences, he proposed and helped design the 2018-2022 Smithsonian Exhibition on Epidemics.

3 thoughts on “COVID-19 “Nigeria variant”: NO cause for alarm from initial data

  1. Paul Wolf

    It’s good news. I think you should be careful at this point assuming that the 3x increase in binding affinity between the spike protein and ACE2 receptor is the reason. The modeling by Filip Fratev suggests the real advantage of this mutation might be evading the STE90-C11 antibody. A big question is whether the Pfizer vaccine will still be effective, since it targets the spike protein also. We should know soon enough since they have already started using it in the UK.

    Reply
  2. Chizaram Onyeaghala

    This is good news as our health institutions in Nigeria are already overstretched. Many of the health care workers are infected and mortality is increasing in that category of the population. Those of us ID Physicians are mentally exhausted with little support from Govt.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: COVID-19: Why a “U.S. variant” will likely be identified in early 2021 | Science Speaks: Global ID News

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