Shoppers and shopkeepers at a cloth market in the city ignore coronavirus SOPs which may lead to a fourth wave of the pan-demic. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Virology institute finds unidentified Covid variants

Pakistani nation needs to be more cautious against the spread of coronavirus in the new wave

Our Correspondent July 16, 2021

The genotyping of randomly selected 94 positive samples of Covid-19 revealed 65 cases of delta variants, which makes 69 per cent of total samples tested, which requires the immediate action of the concerned authorities to prevent the possible spread of the fatal delta variant in Karachi, a statement said on Thursday.

The National Institute of Virology (NIV) at the Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi has processed a total of 2,062 samples received from the Sindh Health Department in two days, from July 12 to 13. Out of the entire samples, a total of 163 were found positive, which shows the seriousness of the prevailing situation in the metropolis, the statement said.

University of Karachi International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) Director and COMSTECH Coordinator General Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary disclosed this while presiding over a meeting held at the PCMD on Thursday.

The results of the genotyping, conducted at NICV, show 65 delta (Indian) variants, two South African variants, 25 unidentified variants, and two wild type variants, he said.

Prof Choudhary speculated that 25 unidentified variants may be delta plus variant or new variant. "The presence of SARS-CoV-2 delta variant has already been confirmed in the Sindh province and its local transmission is evident from the recently identified cluster," he said.

Researchers of the National Institute of Virology are constantly monitoring the spread of this variant in the metropolis, which is really a matter of concern, he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that previous genotyping analysis on samples collected between June 25- 9 July showed 15 per cent of samples as delta variant, adding this delta variant has been identified in various parts of the city and its proportion in positive cases is rapidly increasing.

He urged the citizens to avoid violating SOPs. He maintained that there was a dire need to take concrete steps in the city as the delta variant was quite fatal, and was responsible for the devastating second wave in India. It is pertinent to mention here that the variant was identified in October 2020 in India.

The main characteristics of this variant are increased transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalisations or deaths), a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, and reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines.

The Pakistani nation needs to be more cautious against the spread of coronavirus in the new wave, as this variant, especially, has the potential to sweep a major chunk of the population within a short period, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2021.


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