Genetic make up of locally-transmitted coronavirus may have mutations, say experts

Published April 1, 2020
A team of researchers in Pakistan is studying the genome sequencing of Covid-19. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali
A team of researchers in Pakistan is studying the genome sequencing of Covid-19. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali

A team of researchers in Pakistan, led by Dow University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Professor Mohammad Saeed Quraishy, think that the genetic make up of the novel coronavirus may alter in a locally transmitted case.

The finding is not final as researchers are still studying the genome sequence of the virus and the research, being conducted in coordination with the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, is in its early stages. However, while examining the RNA structure of the virus contracted locally by a young boy, the researchers observed that the sequencing had slight mutations from the one that originated in Wuhan, China.

The patient, whose sample was being examined, had contracted the virus locally from a person who was infected in Saudi Arabia. According to data, 15 people of the same family had contracted the disease from the same person, which indicates that the local spread of the virus is extremely fast.

The team has yet to analyse further samples of the virus that arrived from other countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Syria, Iran, Iraq and other Gulf states.

The study of the virus' genome sequence is being hailed by experts as an important step towards developing a vaccine and treatment modalities.

The virus sample being studied by the research team was detected in the BSL-3 virology lab in Dow University, which is one of the first laboratories in Pakistan to conduct PCR testing for Covid-19. The lab is conducting free tests for the coronavirus.

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