The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said there are about 55 different lineages of SARS-CoV-2 known to be circulating in Nigeria as at February 14, 2021.
The centre, in a statement, yesterday, explained the diversity of SARS-CoV-2 strains indicate multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria from different parts of the world and adds to evidence of community transmission in different states across the country.
"A total of 29 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant strain, which was first described in the UK and shown to be linked to increase in transmissibility, have so far been detected in Nigeria. These strains were detected from cases in Lagos, FCT, Osun, Oyo, and Kwara and Edo states. All samples with the B.1.1.7 variant strain were collected from patients between November and January 2021.
"On the February 11, some recent SARS-CoV-2 genomes were seen to have distinct mutations and characterised as a new variant B.1.525. As at February 17, these have been reported from United Kingdom (44), Denmark (35), Nigeria (30), United States of America (12), Canada (5), France (5), Ghana (4), Australia (2), Jordan (2), Singapore (1), Finland (1), Belgium (1) and Spain (1).
"The first detected B.1.525 case in Nigeria was in a sample collected on November 23, from a patient in Lagos State. So far, this has been detected among cases in five states in Nigeria. B.1.525 cases have also been reported in other countries in travellers from Nigeria. Currently there is no evidence to indicate that likely to emerge, especially in areas of high transmission, and selected by vaccination, particularly if coverage remains suboptimal over time," the statement explained.
The centre said It is critically important for Nigeria to develop its capacity for genomic surveillance to support the public health response, adding routine analysis of the genomic sequence data will enable it and its public health partners to identify variant viruses for further characterisation and investigate transmission, severity, immune escape and other facets that can dictate the impact and trajectory of the pandemic.
The statement further said there are three institutions with sequencing capacity for SARS-CoV-2 in Nigeria. "These are NCDC, the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Africa Centre for Excellence in Genomics (ACEGID). ACEGID has the most advanced capacity and is also a reference laboratory for the joint World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa Centres for Disease Control COVID-19 Genome Sequencing Laboratory Network.
"Collaboration among these three institutions led to the first SARS-CoV-2 virus sequences reported from Africa. The University of Ibadan in collaboration with the Northwestern University in the USA has also conducted some sequencing in Nigeria. So far, about 400 sequences from Nigeria have been deposited in global databases including GISAID, mostly by ACEGID," it added.