According to the Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara, a special mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has been identified in Sri Lanka.
In a special statement released yesteday (January 26), he made these remarks.
This virus mutation differs from the strain previously found in Sri Lanka, adding that it has similar characteristics to that of a strain that has spread to England, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland.
It varies, however, from the version that currently sweeps in the United Kingdom that came under much media attention, he added.
This Covid-19 form found in Sri Lanka is also highly transmissible, Dr. Jeewandara noted.
According to a request from the Health Ministry and the Epidemiology Unit, Sri Jayewardenepura University has been carrying out genetic sequencing of positive Covid-19 samples, he said.
Researchers identified a special SARS-CoV-2 mutation (N439K) among the patients detected within the last two weeks during the sequencing process. It is from the lineage of B1258, he said.
Dr Jeewandara said that the health authorities had been informed about the matter, asking the general public to refrain from undue panic.
While this genetic mutation is highly transmissible and allows monoclonal antibodies to evade the virus, studies have shown that it has little effect on immunity to the vaccine, he explained.
According to Dr. Jeewandara, researchers examining the samples have now discovered a 100 percent Sri Lankan lineage of Covid-19 (B1411).