Following the festive season, researchers have observed a severe change in COVID-19 symptoms and a fair number of ICU admissions among young patients, a medical expert said today.
Sri Jayewardenepura University's Immunology and Molecular Medicine Department Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara told the media his team was conducting researches to ascertain the present variant of the corona virus.
Meanwhile, he said they had described and reported the B.1.411 lineage (Sri Lankan lineage) is the predominant SARS-COV2 virus strain in Sri Lanka currently.
“However, we have observed a rapid increase in the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 samples with undetectable S-gene target (S-gene target failure, SGTF) for some real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing methods,"
“Deletion of amino acids 69 and 70 within the spike (S) gene of SARS-CoV-2, sometimes attributable to the N501Y mutation, can result in SGTF. SGTF was identified in regions of England affected by B.1.1.7, and, after validation with whole-genome sequencing, SGTF was determined to be a reliable marker of B.1.1.7,”
“Further, the E484K mutation, an escape mutation, is known to occur independently de novo in areas of high transmission, also described in our lineage recently. E484K mutations have been identified in B.1.351 and B.1.1.28 variants, and it appears to threaten the efficacy of vaccines. Hence, it would be essential to carry out a mutation analysis to investigate the emergence of E484K mutation in SARS-CoV2 virus strains circulating in Sri Lanka,”
“PCR kits were recently developed for full screening for SARS-CoV-2 and variants, including the five notable mutations in the S gene. This method is far cost-effective and rapid in detecting the emergence of mutation and new variants,”
“We hope we will get these kits within two days and accordingly, we will start testing from next Tuesday,” he added. (Sheain Fernandopulle)