Scientists identified the variant by examining the genetic makeup of the virus that recently infected some patients, Nguyen Thanh Long said on Saturday.
Laboratory tests suggest it could spread more easily than other versions of COVID-19, he said.
Minister Long mentioned that the new variant has spread to 30 of Vietnam’s 63 municipalities and provinces. It could be responsible for a recent increase in confirmed cases.
Viruses often make small genetic changes as they reproduce. New variants of the coronavirus have been observed since COVID-19 was first detected in China in late 2019.
Four worrisome variants
The World Health Organization has listed four
variants of concern globally, those first identified in the UK, India, South Africa and Brazil.
Vietnam was first distinguished by its success in the fight against the coronavirus. By early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic.
However, in recent weeks, the country has seen its death toll rise with more than 3,500 new cases and 12 additional deaths.