LAHORE: A private pathology laboratory claims to have detected two cases of the South African variant of coronavirus in Punjab and also confirmed predominance of the UK variant here during the third wave of the pandemic.
It stated that a research was carried out by the lab’s departments of virology and molecular genetics for which 62 Covid-19 samples had been collected at random at the end of March to be tested for their variant types.
The study concluded that 60 out of the 62 samples (97 per cent) contained the B.1.17 lineage (UK variant) and the remaining two had the B.1.351 lineage (South African variant) detected through a genomic study. It also concluded that the absence of the early variant of the virus (from Wuhan) indicated that the virus had mutated itself completely from the original strain.
The research was carried out by Prof Dr Waheeduz Zaman, head of virology, and Dr Saadat Ali, head of molecular genetics, at Chughtai Lab and a team comprising many other experts.
Lab Chief Executive Officer Prof Akhtar Sohail Chughtai and Operations Director Dr Omar Chughtai expressed concern over the rapidly increasing cases of Covid-19 and the dominance of the UK variant during the third wave of the pandemic in Pakistan.
Analysis of 62 samples reveals that 60 contained UK variant, two South African
“This strain of the virus is also known to affect children and detailed studies on the virus will enable us to better understand the consequences of the mutation,” the experts said.
They further said the findings of this study correlated with the behaviour of the virus where it manifested a higher infectivity and involvement of younger population age groups.
They added that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has included the UK and South African strains to the list of variants that are being closely monitored globally as they have a tendency to spread fast. So far, studies conclude that the antibodies generated through the currently authorised vaccines are effective against these variants.
Given the rapidly mutating nature of the virus, the research supports the need for effective lockdowns on public gatherings and increased personal hygiene to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan, the Chughtais added.
Meanwhile, Punjab reported a considerable decrease in the number of deaths and new cases.
According to official figures released by the provincial government here on Wednesday, the virus claimed 58 more lives across the province during the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 8,741.
Similarly, the total number of confirmed cases reached 310,616 after 2,087 more people tested positive for the virus during the same period.
Out of the new cases, 907 were reported from Lahore, while others were from Lodhran, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Jhang, Bahawalnagar, Khushab, Layyah, Sheikhupura, Narowal, Gujrat, Kasur, Okara, Bhakkar, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh, Sialkot, Chiniot, Jhelum, Mianwali, Mandi Bahauddin, Khanewal, Nankana Sahib and Hafizabad.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021