The B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the UK variant, has been detected for the first time in a Bangladeshi resident. The research is published in Microbiology Resource Announcements, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) first detected the B.1.1.7 variant in Bangladesh on January 6, 2021, said corresponding author Mustafizur Rahman, PhD, Senior Scientist and Head, Virology Laboratory, icddr,b. By mid-March, icddrb had identified 20 B.1.1.7 variants out of a total of 333 samples sequenced.
“The icddr,b initiated SARS-CoV-2 variant surveillance in December 2020, as part of the national COVID-19 laboratory network of the Government of Bangladesh,” said Dr. Rahman. “The B.1.1.7 variant was identified through the increased monitoring of variations in the circulating virus strains in Bangladesh.”
“Knowing the changing pattern of virus diversity over time is crucial for selecting interventions such as vaccine and drug designs, treatment using monoclonal antibodies, vaccine effectiveness, and patient management,” said Dr. Rahman.
“Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries for the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been relatively less affected so far,” said Dr. Rahman. “Although the COVID-19 was decreasing in Bangladesh during January-February 2021, it is now increasing again. Genetic changes are not unexpected in RNA viruses like SARS-CoV-2; however, the impact of the recent emergence of new variants as we are reporting is yet to be evaluated.”
icddrb works closely on identification of variants with government bodies such as the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).