Denmark-Iraq variant detected in Colombo

  • Trio outside quarantine centres


Issuing the genome sequencing results of early April, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (USJ) said that three individuals with the Denmark-Iraq variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus (B.1.428), which is mostly found in Europe, had been found in Colombo, outside of quarantine centres.

USJ Allergy, Immunology, and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara told The Morning yesterday (8) that these strains were detected from samples brought in for testing.

He said that all SARS-Cov-2 strains found from Sapugaskanda, an elderly home in Battaramulla, Mannar, Jaffna, Colombo, and Kegalle are of the Sri Lankan variant of the virus – namely, B.1.411.

He added that certain mutations of the virus that were of interest to the health authorities have been detected and that they are conducting further investigations on them. “These mutations of interest are being investigated for vaccine immunity escape, rapid spread,  and increased severity as described in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil,” Dr. Jeewandara said.

Two persons who had returned from Qatar were identified with the South African variant B.1.351 from samples collected in quarantine centres. Seven individuals with the UK variant, B.1.1.7 were also detected, where six of them were from quarantine centres and the other being a fisherman who was arrested in the seas for smuggling illegal goods.

When inquired, Dr. Jeewandara said that the “double mutant” variant from India was not detected in any of the samples.

Foreign media has reported that variants of concern such as the UK variant, the South African variant, the Kent variant, and “double mutants” can escape the neutralising antibodies created by the vaccines to block the entrance of the virus to a person’s body.

Dr. Jeewandara further said that more samples from Jaffna would be sequenced later this month and that the next sequencing run will be towards the end of April.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi has said that the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca anti-Covid-19 vaccine is to be administered from 23 April to 6 July. The second dose was previously planned to be administered from 19 April.