The new variant named SARS-CoV-2, belonging to the B.1.1.7 lineage in the UK, which has a higher transmissibility, has been detected in COVID-19 positive samples received from four areas in the country.
Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine Director of Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said the new variant was detected in the samples received from Colombo, Avissawella, Biyagama and Vavuniya areas.
He said sequencing of 92 SARS-CoV2 viruses received in their laboratory from January to 1st week of February 2021 was carried out by the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit, Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
“Sequencing was carried out from viruses from Colombo, Avissawella, Ingiriya, Biyagama, Wattala, Mathugama, Mannar, Vavuniya and from those in several quarantine centres (returnees from overseas),” Dr Jeewandara underlined.
“Accordingly, a few viruses belonging to the B.1.1.7 (UK lineage) was detected from Colombo, Avissawella, Biyagama and Vavuniya and from a few individuals in the quarantine centres while most of the virus lineages belonged to the previously circulating B.1.411 lineage (Sri Lankan lineage),” he added.
The B.1.1.7 is the currently rapidly transmissible variant currently circulating in the UK and many other countries. It is associated with a 50% higher transmissibility than the other SARS-CoV2 variants. This does not have any mutations that affect vaccine efficacy. The new variant was first detected in UK in December 14, 2020. (Sheain Fernandopulle)