The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Thursday the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom has not been found in the country.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, said the agency did some sequencing in the past but did not find the variant said to be deadlier than the original strain of the virus.
He said: “Over the last few days, we have monitored reports of the COVID-19 mutating in the UK, South Africa, and some other countries but it is important to establish some facts about what we know, what we do not know, and what we are willing to learn over the next few years.
“The most important fact to put out there to calm everybody’s nerves is that viruses mutate all the time.
“We haven’t found that UK COVID-19 strain, but it is not something we have been looking for on the go. To find that, you have to do sequencing. And our focus has not been on sequencing. We did some sequencing in the past but we haven’t found that.”
“We only found two were similar but not the same. However, we are doing more sequencing. Is it possible that they are circulating? Yes. This is because there are a lot of travels between the UK and Nigeria.”
The NCDC chief said the agency would collaborate with stakeholders to collect new COVID-19 samples for sequencing in order to determine their variant.
Ihekweazu added: “This is ongoing work. It cannot happen in a hurry. It is very complex. Sequencing is not a straight-forward business which is why we have only a few centres that are able to do it.”