A new variant of COVID-19 associated with Nigeria has been discovered in Canada.
At a press conference on February 12, the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia confirmed that laboratories in the province had identified a single case of the B.1.525 variant.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said the virus mutation is associated with Nigeria and was discovered in a person who had recently traveled to the West African country.
This is the first case of variant B.1.525 discovered in Canada.
“We’re not entirely sure if this variant also increases communicability or causes a more serious illness,” Henry told reporters.
“Our lab team is working with colleagues across the country and internationally to better understand what this can mean.”
Describing the emergence of COVID-19 variants as worrying, she noted that they give the virus “an advantage” by spreading faster and potentially causing more serious illnesses.
There is no evidence that approved vaccines against the mutated strains are less effective.
On February 12, Canada’s chief public health officer reported that 458 cases of the different variants had been discovered across the country.
Dr. Theresa Tam said that over 429 cases of the British strain (B.1.1.7), 28 cases of the South African mutation (B.1.351) and one case of the Brazilian variant (P.1) have been found in eight provinces.
To date, Canada has recorded 820,306 COVID1-9 cases and 21,162 virus-related deaths.