Around 75% Covid patients who came to a hospital in Chattogram in April and May for treatment were infected with the 'beta' variant of coronavirus found in South Africa, according to a study.
In addition, 25% patients were infected with the UK's 'alpha variant'. However, the study did not find the presence of India's 'delta variant' among the Covid patients of the hospital.
This information was obtained by sequencing the genome of the virus obtained from the samples of 24 Covid patients of Chattogram General Hospital. The study was carried out by researchers from the General Hospital and the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Chittagong University, under the supervision of Child Health Research Foundation in Dhaka.
The researchers said that their genome sequence data have been accepted by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), an international database of viruses published from Germany.
The study found that five of the 24 patients had already taken the second dose of Covid vaccine. They were infected with coronavirus two weeks after vaccination. The 'beta variant' was found in all of them. Among the 24 patients, 10 received treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Eight patients, among those 10, were infected with the 'beta variant'.
The study was led by Sejuti Saha, a scientist of Child Health Research Foundation. The main researchers were HM Hamidullah Mehedi and Md Abdur Rob; and two doctors of General Hospital, Minhazul Haque and Rajdeep Biswas, were co-researchers. The study was supervised by Adnan Mannan, Associate Professor of Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Chittagong University.
Dr Abdur Rob said, "Between April and May this year, samples of 24 Covid patients who came to Chattogram General Hospital for treatment were collected. Genomes of the viruses were sequenced and various aspects of the viruses were monitored. Among the 24 patients, 10 were admitted to the ICU unit of the hospital while the remaining 14 patients, with mild or moderate symptoms, were treated in isolation or in the outdoor ward."
Abdur Rob said, "The patients who needed ICU and high flow oxygen support were infected with the 'beta variant' while 90% of those infected with the 'alpha variant' had symptoms of fever, phlegm and cold."
It is to be noted that on 4 April, in a report titled 'Fear of new Covid strains grows amid lack of research' and published in The Business Standard, the presence of South African 'beta variant' in Chattogram was mentioned for the first time.
At the time, Chattogram Divisional Health Director Hasan Shahriar Kabir told TBS, "The new variant has a higher mortality rate in Chattogram. The South African and Brazilian variants have already spread in the port city."
Civil Surgeon of Chattogram Sheikh Fazle Rabbi said till Saturday, 54,807 people had been infected with coronavirus in Chattogram. Of them, 642 have died.