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Japan discovered another new COVID variant. Here’s what we know

Japan discovered another new COVID-19 variant that is different than those in South Africa and England.

People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus ride bicycles along the Shinobazu Pond in Tokyo Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus ride bicycles along the Shinobazu Pond in Tokyo Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
Eugene Hoshinko, Associated Press

Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said Sunday it has discovered another new COVID-19 variant that is different from the mutation discovered in England and South Africa.

What happened:

The NIID said it discovered a new variant of COVID-19 that shares some similarities with those found in South Africa and the UK.

  • The new variant shows signs of increased infectivity toward patients.
  • However, the NIID said the information centers around the virus’ genetic makeup.
  • The institute said it’s hard to figure out how fast the virus can spread right now, and if the vaccine can defeat it.

The World Health Organization told CNBC it has been told about the new strain.

Context:

The new Japan variant comes as countries across the world find slight mutations to the novel coronavirus, raising immediate questions about whether the available COVID-19 vaccines can stop these mutations.

The good (ish) news

A new study published last week suggests that Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine can stop the new COVID-19 mutation, which is potentially good news for defeating any variant that comes through, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

The study found that the COVID-19 vaccine was effective in stopping the new mutation of the spike protein, Reuters reports,