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UK, South African variants behind Pakistan’s worsening third COVID-19 wave

This was revealed in a Karachi University study

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 16, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Apr 16, 2021 | Last Updated: 6 months ago

A family shopping at a crowded Sunday Bazar in Islamabad. Photo: Online

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The rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths during the third wave is most likely due to the spread of the UK and South African virus variants in Pakistan, a new study has revealed.  The study was based on the results of gene sequencing and was conducted by the National Institute of Virology at the University of Karachi. “Dr Panjwani Center reports a steep rise in the UK and South African variants in Pakistan,” said Professor Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences. “The situation may slip out of control if immediate measures are not taken to address the looming disaster.” The study revealed that around 50% of the new infections are of the UK variants while 25% are South African variants.  Due to large-scale violations of coronavirus SOPs in Pakistan, these variants have the potential to infect a large proportion of the population within a short period, Dr Choudhary said. There is an urgent need to increase genomic surveillance of the coronavirus to contain rapidly emerging new strains, he added.  Another newly-identified coronavirus variant is also causing a surge of infections in India. The variant, known as B.1.617, has experts worried because of its “double mutation”.  It has two mutations in the virus spike protein that might make it easier to escape immune responses as well as spread faster.  Patients with typical severe COVID-19 symptoms are testing negative even using the latest RT-PCR-based assays, Dr Choudhary said. He warned that the same could be happening in other countries where testing and genomic surveillance are limited. These countries are likely to have new unnoticed strains, which can escape current vaccine regimes, and cause major outbreaks, he observed.
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The rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths during the third wave is most likely due to the spread of the UK and South African virus variants in Pakistan, a new study has revealed. 

The study was based on the results of gene sequencing and was conducted by the National Institute of Virology at the University of Karachi.

“Dr Panjwani Center reports a steep rise in the UK and South African variants in Pakistan,” said Professor Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences.

“The situation may slip out of control if immediate measures are not taken to address the looming disaster.”

The study revealed that around 50% of the new infections are of the UK variants while 25% are South African variants. 

Due to large-scale violations of coronavirus SOPs in Pakistan, these variants have the potential to infect a large proportion of the population within a short period, Dr Choudhary said.

There is an urgent need to increase genomic surveillance of the coronavirus to contain rapidly emerging new strains, he added. 

Another newly-identified coronavirus variant is also causing a surge of infections in India. The variant, known as B.1.617, has experts worried because of its “double mutation”. 

It has two mutations in the virus spike protein that might make it easier to escape immune responses as well as spread faster. 

Patients with typical severe COVID-19 symptoms are testing negative even using the latest RT-PCR-based assays, Dr Choudhary said.

He warned that the same could be happening in other countries where testing and genomic surveillance are limited.

These countries are likely to have new unnoticed strains, which can escape current vaccine regimes, and cause major outbreaks, he observed.

 
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