KAMPALA, UGANDA: Government of Uganda has confirmed a new strain of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.
The new Coronavirus strain was confirmed by Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) on Thursday February 11.
Kaleebu said initially there were viruses that were imported from different parts of the world which were falling into different groups such as B, A but recently there has been an increase of one of the groups called A23.
“It’s increasing and what we see in this virus is that it has mutations, including mutations in the spike region, about five mutations, but we have not yet seen the most worrying mutations in our viruses,” said Prof Kaleebu while updating the country on the status of coronavirus in the country yesterday.
Prof Kaleebu added that this particular A23 strain was first seen in some infected people in northern Uganda. However, this strain has also been reported in other countries in Europe, USA as well as Rwanda.
According to UVRI, the source of A23 strain is not clear, but it was first reported in Uganda.
“Did it first mutate in Uganda and then spread elsewhere or it came from elsewhere? So we need to do more work but the first globally reported one, particular strain of A23 was in Uganda,” Dr Kaleebu said.
Results available have pointed scientists to the need to continue with surveillance and checking the virus strains in the country and to make sure the strains respond to the vaccines that are going to be introduced.
However, Dr Kaleebu said with the virus mutation, it is not known whether the emerging strain is more transmissible than the first one.
“We don’t know whether more people are likely to fall sick, we are going to follow up on that, including some laboratory work and we shall also see in hospitals what the dominant one is. If we see that severe people have one particular variant, then we shall say this causes more severe disease but we have not seen that,” Dr Kaleebu said.
According to UVRI, change of the virus could be good or bad because when some virus change they become weaker.
A number of coronavirus variants have been reported in different parts of the world such as one identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, among other countries.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, said currently scientists will continue to look at the viruses in the country.
Dr Aceng added that there are ongoing studies around the world to confirm whether these variants do not respond to vaccines.