Vietnam identifies a highly contagious new coronavirus variant with strains from the UK and India

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A nurse prepares to swab a patient at a COVID-19 testing center on July 7, 2020, in Texas.
  • Vietnam has detected a new coronavirus variant, officials said Saturday.
  • The variant carries traces of strains from both the United Kingdom and India.
  • Variants can spread more easily, make people sicker, escape immune responses, evade tests, or render treatments ineffective.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Health officials in Vietnam have detected a new variant of the coronavirus that's highly contagious.

The Vietnamese Health Ministry announced on Saturday that scientists have determined the new variant has traces of strains from both the United Kingdom and India, VnExpress reported.

Because the virus has mutations of strains from both countries, it is particularly susceptible to transmission. Officials believe the UK variant is more easily transmissible than other strains. The variant, B.1.1.7, is between 30% to 50% more effective at spreading from person to person than other coronavirus variants, according to UK scientists.

The Indian variant, on the other hand, might make the virus more infectious or may help it avoid the antibody response.

This means variants can spread more easily, make people sicker, escape immune responses, evade tests, or render treatments ineffective, according to experts.

The new variant is able to be transmitted quickly through the air, VnExpress, an international news outlet, reported.

At least four people infected with the coronavirus are carrying the hybrid variant in Vietnam, the outlet reported.

News of the variant comes as India continues to struggle to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The situation is dire in India as the country continues to report large surges in positive cases. Crematoriums across India have been overwhelmed with bodies and people died as hospitals ran out of oxygen.

India has been reporting hundreds of thousands of new cases a week, reaching record highs that are globally unmatched. Despite the staggering numbers, experts believe the death toll numbers are likely much higher.

Dozens of hospital workers recently told Bloomberg that they feel burnt out and exhausted from treating patients under the grim circumstances.

The situation has led to US officials promising to intervene. Last month, for example, President Joe Biden promised the US would send help to India in the form of "oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics."

And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has urged other countries to also step up to help India curb the spread of the virus.

Insider's Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce contributed to this report.

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