Vietnam detects COVID-19 hybrid variant

Authorities in Vietnam have detected a new coronavirus variant that is a combination of the Indian and UK COVID-19 variants.

The country's health minister says it spreads quickly by air and has described the hybrid variant as "very dangerous".

After successfully containing the virus for most of last year, Vietnam is grappling with a spike in infections since late April.

Quoted in local media, the minister says the authorities will announce the name and detailed characteristics of the newly discovered variant soon, saying lab cultures show it is much more transmissible than the previously known types.

He said that could explain why so many new cases had appeared in different parts of the country within a short period of time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified four variants of COVID-19 of global concern. These include variants that emerged first in India, in Britain, in South Africa and in Brazil.

Officials at the WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the new variant identified in Vietnam.

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