Highly transmissible Covid-19 variant found in Sri Lanka

Highly transmissible Covid-19 variant found in Sri Lanka

January 26, 2021   05:18 pm

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A special mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, has been detected in Sri Lanka, says the Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara.

He made these remarks in a special statement issued today (January 26).

This mutation of the virus is different from the strain previously identified in Sri Lanka, he said adding that it has similar characteristics to a strain that spread in England, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Iceland.

However, it differs from the variant currently sweeping across the United Kingdom which came under much media scrutiny, he added.

Dr. Jeewandara noted that this Covid-19 variant found in Sri Lanka is also highly transmissible.

Sri Jayewardenepura University, as per a request from the Health Ministry and the Epidemiology Unit, has been carrying out genetic sequencing of Covid-19 positive samples, he said.

During sequencing, the researchers have found a special mutation (N439K) of the SARS-CoV-2 among the patients detected within the past two weeks. It is of B1258 lineage, he added.

Health authorities have been informed on the matter, Dr Jeewandara said, requesting the general public refrain from undue panic.

Although this genetic mutation is highly transmissible and allows the virus to evade monoclonal antibodies, reports have shown that it does not have an impact on vaccine immunity, he explained.

Researchers analysing the samples meanwhile uncovered a 100% Sri Lankan lineage of Covid-19 (B1411), according to Dr. Jeewandara.

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