By Sola Ogundipe
Efforts to sequence the coronavirus strain discovered in Nigeria are advancing and the findings will be submitted to the World Health Organisation, WHO.
The director of the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof Sunday Omilabu, who disclosed this, said the research was at a midway point.
“We are at the midway point and sending out samples for the sequencing outside the lab in Lagos state. We are in the process of installing a sequencer at the lab and having issues with reagents, but hopefully, very soon, there would be further information on the sequencing.”
According to Omilabu, the surge in the infection rate of the Covid-19 virus in Nigeria in recent times is a clinical pointer to the presence of a variant.
“The surge in the number of new infections is pointing clinically to a variant. In the last two months, we have been noticing that the surge is moving gradually until the last two weeks in November till this month (January) that we notice there are lots of people coming down and that is clinically evident.
“We knew there must be a variant responsible for this but can not confirm until we finish the sequencing and we are satisfied. We will share the results with the World Health Organization, WHO.
Further, he explained that sequencing is to monitor the strain circulating in the environment so that there would be information about the particular strain’s circulation.
“The strains circulating in the UK, South Africa, and elsewhere we’re discovered as a result of their surveillance and sequencing to see what is changing in the novel virus.
“It is natural for RNA viruses to mutate and when drugs are introduced, they also mutate to establish their survival. This is what informs the mutation of viruses and this affects their virulence but not in all cases.
‘’Once they mutate, there is a likelihood that the mutation may affect the virulence via potency,” he stated.