Kenyan Covid Variant Seen as Similar Enough for Vaccine to Work

Kenyan medical researchers said a unique Covid-19 variant discovered in the country doesn’t show significant change to raise concern over vaccine effectiveness.

The variant has “one change that is suspected to be of significance,” Kenya Medical Research Institute Principal Researcher Dr. Charles Agoti said by phone. Variants in South Africa and the U.K. 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. It showed the unique change in an important protein spike in the second study, he said.

The change is unlikely to have an impact on the effectiveness of existing vaccines, and the Kemri scientists are still studying whether the variant is more transmissible, he said.

“Sequencing around Kenya is still very low, only eight of 47 counties have data, thus we don’t know how widespread it is,” 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, he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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