A research organisation that has been conducting genome sequencing of the coronavirus says three Covid-19 variants of concern have been detected in Kenya.
Dr Samuel Oyola, a specialist in genomics and molecular biology at the International Livestock Research Institute (Ilri), said the variants are the ones first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and India.
“We have detected the India variant, particularly in Kisumu, through genome sequencing and it is good for us to know so we can prepare. I am urging people in Nyanza to be extra vigilant because it spreads faster than the South African variant,” said Dr Oyola.
The Indian variant also spreads faster than the UK variant by at least 30 to 50 percent and it is twice as fast as the original Wuhan virus.
“It is not a coincidence that after reports of the India variant was detected in Kisumu there was a surge in numbers. And not just in Kisumu, but also neighbouring counties,” said Dr Andrew Suleh, a consultant physician, renal, and tropical medicine specialist.
The three variants detected in Kenya are among the four variants that have declared of global concern by the WHO.
Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a consultant pathologist, said the Brazilian variant should not be ruled out. He said it may not be detected yet because Kenya does not have a lot of people travelling from Brazil.
Other variants that have not been declared variant of concern (VOC) are the Tanzanian variant B.1 and Ugandan variant A.23.1.