As many as 75% of Covid-19 patients in Chattogram are infected with the Omicron variant, which was first detected on 26 December in the division, said a study.
The international database of the genome sequences of SARS CoV-2, Germany's Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), published the finding on Thursday based on a genome sequence study of test samples from November last year to the first week of January, of 30 patients at Chittagong General Hospital and Chattogram Maa-o-Shishu Hospital.
The study was led by Dr HM Hamidullah Mehedi, Junior Consultant, Department of Medicine, Chittagong General Hospital, and Dr Adnan Mannan, Teacher, Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Chittagong.
The genome sequencing showed that from 1 November to 25 December 2021, all patients were infected with the Delta variant. But since 25 December, 75% of the patients identified as infected were infected with Omicron. Of these, the latest type of Omicron, "BA2," or the "stealth version of Omicron," was found in the body of two patients for the first time in Chattogram.
Scientists say they have identified a "stealth" version of Omicron that cannot be distinguished from other variants using the PCR tests that public health officials deploy to gain a quick picture of its spread around the world, reports The Guardian.
Researchers say about 90% of patients with Omicron had symptoms of sore throat and hoarseness, 85% had signs of pain in different parts of the body and headache, and 80% had a fever.
This (BA2) variant has also been found in Houston, Texas in the United States, India, China, and Oman. Though it is not that dangerous, several new changes have been found in its spike protein.
Lead researcher Dr Hamidullah Mehedi said a few hundred more samples need to be sequenced to get a clear idea of its character.
Dr Rajdwip Biswas of Chittagong General Hospital, Dr Minhazul Haque, and Dr Fahim Hasan Reza of Chattogram Maa-o-Shishu Hospital, were assistant researchers in the study. Scientists at the icddr,b virology laboratory was in overall charge of the sequencing.
The research was supported and sponsored by the Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases at Dalhousie University in Canada. The data analysis was done by Professor David Kelvin and Abdullah Mahmoud Al Rafat.