Covid-19 variants: No more new variants or mutations detected

  • Authorities closely monitoring ‘Mu’ and ‘C.1.2’ developments
  • No conclusive information on variant behaviour by experts

By Aazam Ameen

No additional variants or mutations of the Covid-19 virus have been identified in Sri Lanka as of yesterday (4), The Sunday Morning learnt.

Speaking to us, Ministry of Health Communications Director and Deputy Director General of Public Health Services (DDGPHS) Dr. Hemantha Herath said that even though the status quo remains the same, the situation will be continuously monitored for new developments.

“Specific additional information has not come to light, and no confirmed cases of any new variants or other genetic apparitions or deviations have been reported so far. However, we are continuously monitoring the situation by conducting gene sequencing on samples of PCR tests,” he said.

Dr. Herath explained that currently, the virulent Covid-19 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, along with its SA 222V, SA 701S, SA 1078S, and R-24C mutations, continues to appear when sequencing runs are conducted.

He also mentioned that the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant also continues to be detected, despite being overshadowed by a high number of Delta variant detections.

In terms of the Mu (B.1.621) Colombian origin Variant of Interest (VOI), as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in late August 2021, and the C.1.2 South African origin variant, which was detected in May 2021, Dr. Herath explained that it is still too early to understand the behaviour of these variants.

“What we know for now is that neither of these variants have been detected in Sri Lanka. These variants are still under study. Most international authorities have not put forward any conclusive information about their behaviour. We will have to wait and see,” he told The Sunday Morning.

Citing the Delta variant as an example, Dr. Herath explained that it was first detected in Sri Lanka after the variant caused devastation in other countries, including our neighbour India.

“By the time it came to Sri Lanka, we knew many things about it. Likewise, we have to wait and monitor the situation in terms of the Mu and C.1.2. variants as well,” he stated.

Attempts by The Sunday Morning to contact University of Sri Jayewardenepura Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara regarding the new variants and mutations proved futile.