A virus surveillance report of icddr,b has revealed that South African variant dominates new Covid cases in Bangladesh.
"The South African variant occupied 81% of the variants in the fourth week of March in Bangladesh," icddr,b said today.
icddr,b initiated a SARS-CoV-2 variant surveillance in December 2020 in collaboration with the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
In the report, icddr,b said, "A dramatic change in the distribution of variants was observed when the South African variant appeared. It became the most prevalent variant during the third week of March 2021 by replacing other variants."
icddr,b also expressed concerns over effectiveness of Oxford vaccine against this variant.
Recently, the new variants of coronaviurs, especially the UK variant (B.1.1.7), South African variant (B.1.351), and Brazilian variant (P1/P2) have spread across the world.
These variants are said to have greater transmissibility and harbour new genetic changes, which may impact clinical manifestation and vaccine effectiveness.
Between 1 January- 24 March, a total of 16,265 specimens were tested for coronavirus using real-time PCR in icddr,b's Virology Laboratory, of which 2,751 (17%) were positive.
icddr,b identified the first UK variant on 6 January; however, the SARS-CoV-2 sequence database at GISAID.ORG indicated that the UK variant was already circulating in December 2020 in the country.
The UK variant gradually increased over time until the second week of March 2021, with the highest positivity rate (52%).
South Africa variant (B.1.351) was found in more 20 other countries, including the UK. The variant emerged in October last year, and is 70% deadly than other variants.
Bangladesh on Wednesday saw an alarming growth in the number of Covid-19 cases as 7,626 people – highest so far – were tested positive in the past 24 hours.
Third day of the ongoing nationwide lockdown also saw 63 more deaths from the virus.
Bangladesh starts administering the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZaneca vaccine today while continuing the first jab campaign, said the DGHS.
The country's death toll from the virus now stands at 9,447, according to a press release from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The new cases took the total Covid-19 count to 6,59,278, with an infection rate of 22.02%. The overall infection rate stands at 13.50% and the fatality rate 1.43%.