UT researchers: ‘British’ or ‘South African’ coronavirus strains have not been found in Estonia
To date, none of the so-called British or South African coronavirus strains, presumably more rapidly spreading, have been detected in Estonia, as reveals the whole-genome analysis of coronavirus conducted in the project KoroGeno-EST-2 by medical researchers of the University of Tartu.
There has been a lot a talk lately about several new and hypothetically even more infectious strains of SARS-CoV-2. The so-called South African and British strains have received the most attention and been associated with increased infection rates.
Led by the researchers of the University of Tartu Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, the whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 (also known as the project KoroGeno-Est-2) continues to ascertain the percentage of the potentially more infectious virus strains spreading abroad among the viruses causing new infections in Estonia.
By now, 34 SARS-CoV-2 whole genomes originating from November, December and the first week of January have been sequenced in the KoroGeno-Est-2 project.
According to Associate Professor in Medical Virology of the University of Tartu Radko Avi, the lead researcher of the project KoroGeno-Est-2, the whole genome analysis has not revealed any of the presumably more rapidly spreading British (genotype B.1.1.7) or South African (genotype B.1.351) strains. Also, no cases of the N501Y mutation associated with the faster spread of the virus have been detected. “The fact that we did not find these strains does not mean they have not reached Estonia. They simply did not turn up in our sample,” said Avi.
The project KoroGeno-Est-2 aims to determine 350 whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2. The project team comprises researchers from the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine and Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu and specialists from SYNLAB Eesti and the Health Board.
KoroGeno-Est-2 is financed by the Estonian government.