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Scientists identify yet another Covid variant in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi scientists have identified yet another new variant of novel coronavirus in the country with potentially worrying mutations.

The variant, known as B.1.525, was first detected in the UK on December 15 and Nigeria in December last year.

Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) says eight cases of this variant have so far been found in Bangladesh by different laboratories.

Of those, six were detected by the scientists at Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), one by the scientists at Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (IDSHI) and another by the scientists at Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF).

One of the Bangladeshi scientists linked to the study said, “What information about this variant we have received so far from our collaborating colleagues in Europe is a bit concerning. However, it is too early to reach any conclusion.”

However, the results of the genomic sequence were uploaded to the GISAID database between April 8 and 19.

The samples, which were detected, collected between March 11 and April 13, according to the GISAID database.

Seven of the patients who were carrying this variant were from Dhaka city’s different areas, while one was from Sunamganj, according to the GISAID database.

These people were aged between 23 and 58.

Earlier, the South African variant, known as B.1.351 or 501.V2, was also reported from Bangladesh and another UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, was detected in January.

The latest variant — B.1.525 — has since been found in 24 other countries, including Denmark, US, and Australia.

It sports a handful of mutations, including one on the spike protein called E484K, according to the scientists.

This mutation is also found in variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil and seems to help the virus evade antibodies, said researchers from the University of Edinburgh.

In addition, B.1.525 has similarities to the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant that also emerged in the UK, according to the researchers.

The World Health Organization, in its latest Epidemiological Update published on Tuesday, has enlisted this variant as a “variant of interest”.

Scientists in Bangladesh have already revealed that the second wave of Covid-19 is mostly due to the South African variant.

Chairman of Pharmacology at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Prof Sayedur Rahman said, “Mutation of the virus is very normal. Although there are worrying issues, wearing mask properly can save us from any mutated virus.”

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