Mixed strains of Covid-19 found in Bangladesh

A group of researchers in Chattogram and Dhaka has found that the strains of the coronavirus in Bangladesh are from different regions of the world.

The researchers concluded that an effective vaccine (if found) used on infected people in the country of origin of the imported virus strain could also be an effective treatment on those who show having similar strains of the virus.

Such an analysis by GISAID Initiative, originally known as a Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, shows that the virus came from people who returned to Bangladesh from different countries.

GISAID in 2020, entered into the global research effort to understand the virus causing COVID-19 disease, making available over 30,600 genomic sequences since last Tuesday.

It is modeled in real-time, helping to detect viral mutations and track movement of the virus across the planet. The database has aided the rapid sharing of influenza virus data and was recognized for its importance to global health by G20 health ministers in 2017.

Professor Junaid Siddiqui, the head of the research team, claimed that their research had initially proved that people in Bangladesh were infected with the virus from different places across the world.

Professor Junaid also led the team for the first time in the world to sequence the genome of the Black Bengal goats in Bangladesh.

Researchers in Chattogram and Dhaka have decoded the complete genome sequence of Covid-19 samples collected from the port city and different upazilas in the district. They found the genome of the strain that spread in Chattogram to be similar to the genome of the strains which spread in Australia, Singapore, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Genome sequencing is the process of identifying the basic building block of DNA and RNA present in a certain cell and in what order.

Researchers of Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU), Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID), and Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) in Dhaka have jointly studied the genome of Covid-19 samples from Chattogram district.

So far, genetic analysis of the 14 coronavirus samples from four Bangladeshi research groups has been submitted to the GISAID. In these, a team from the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) led by Dr Senjuti Saha and her father claimed to have successfully completed the genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in Bangladesh on May 12.

Professor Junaid Siddiqui also said that comparing the sequence of these samples with the genome sequence of the virus in the Chattogram did not match.

They have collected samples from Covid-19 patients both from Chattogram city and from different upazilas in Chattogram for genome sequencing which have tested at BITID lab.

“The genome was the sequencing of these samples using conventional methods of virus analysis and software shows the difference between viruses in Chattogram and viruses in other parts of the country,” said Professor Junaid Siddiqui.

“We found the virus in this region to have undergone mutation in five points, by Multiple Sequence Alignments, a popular method of comparing the viruses of similar genetic behavior have been found to match similarities with viruses in Chattogram and viruses in several other countries. Which may mean, the virus found in Chattogram probably came from those countries,” he added.

"Mutation has been observed in five points in the thirty thousand base pair of the genome, which means the virus has been mutated in this region at least five times," Professor Junaid added.

BITID lab source said that they primarily selected 25 samples for genome sequencing and finally selected seven from those. This is for the first time that genome sequencing has been done for samples of the virus from Chattogram region.

"Genome sequence is important to know the character of a virus, its nature and mode of destruction," he also said, adding that "By knowing the type of mutation, the researchers also get an indication of how the virus is changing itself in changing environment."

With the full genealogy of some of the samples of viruses known, researchers believe that some progress has been made in finding a vaccine or antidote for the disease.

This research was conducted with the cooperation of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), ministries of education and agriculture.

However, more samples are need to be studied, which they are doing now, Prof Junaid mentioned.

He said, “If we know that the structure of the virus spread in our country is similar to that of another country, it can confirm that the vaccine introduced in that country against the virus would be effective against the one in our country."