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Deadly South African Covid-19 variant now dominant in Bangladesh

Published : Wednesday, 7 April, 2021 at 11:53 PM  Count : 328

Deadly South African Covid-19 variant now dominant in Bangladesh

Deadly South African Covid-19 variant now dominant in Bangladesh


A group of scientists at icddr,b have carried out an extensive study and found that the South African variant of novel coronavirus has become dominant in Bangladesh.

They also analysed genomic sequence of around 57 samples of Covid-19 positive patients between March 18 and 24. Of those, 46 (more than 80 per cent) were found as same as the South African variant of coronavirus.

The icddr,b scientists also analysed genomic sequence of 99 novel coronavirus samples in the previous week (between March 12 and 17) and found the South African variant in 64 or more than 64 percent samples.

"A dramatic change in the distribution of variants was observed when the South African variant appeared. It became the most prevalent variant during the third week of March 2021 by replacing other variants. Most remarkably, the South African variant occupied 81% of the variants in the fourth week of March 2021. The findings warrant continuous monitoring of genetic variations of SARS/CoV2, which is crucial for vaccine effectiveness and patients management," said the icddrb on its website on Wednesday (April 7).

In the first week of March (between March 5 and 11), the team analysed genomic sequence of around 30 samples. In that case, there was no existence of South African variant. The samples were collected from 13 districts.

A group of scientists at icddrb led by Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Senior Scientist and Head, Virology Laboratory, icddr,b are seen in the photograph. PHOTO: icddrb

A group of scientists at icddrb led by Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Senior Scientist and Head, Virology Laboratory, icddr,b are seen in the photograph. PHOTO: icddrb

"We have continued genomic sequencing of the samples collected after March 24. The analysis is not ready yet," Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Senior Scientist and Head, Virology Laboratory, icddr,b, who led the genome sequence team, said.

Recently, the variants of SARS-CoV-2, especially the UK variant named as B.1.1.7, South African variant named B.1.351, and Brazilian variant named P1/P2 have spread all over the world, according to different studies across the globe.

These variants are said to have increased transmissibility and harbour new genetic changes, which may impact clinical manifestation and vaccine effectiveness, scientists said.

icddr,b initiated SARS-CoV-2 variant surveillance in December 2020 in collaboration with the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Considering the recent upsurge of Covid-19, the icddr,b scientists suggested everyone follow the standard mitigation measures including wearing masks properly, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding gatherings regardless of previous infections, vaccination, or new variants.

They also stressed that everyone needs to abide by the restrictions recently announced by the Bangladesh government.

What is the South African variant?

The South African strain is one of the many mutations of the virus that causes Covid-19.

The strain first identified in South Africa, and another identified the UK, have changes in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells, which may make them more infectious.

Is it more dangerous?

The South African variant appears to be more contagious.

University of Otago virologist Jemma Geoghegan said research suggested the South African variant could be up to 50 percent more transmissible.

There is no clear evidence that variant causes much more serious illness for the vast majority of people who become infected.

But because it is more transmissible, more people could be infected, meaning "proportionally there could be more people in hospital, unfortunately, who die", Geoghegan said.

She said it was not clear if the vaccines would be as effective on the new variants because they were created on genetic sequence from about a year ago.

"Early evidence suggests that some of the viruses that have this mutation might be better at reinfecting people that have recovered or even vaccinated."

SZA



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