Near East University, extracting the genome map of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, announced that at least eight different variants have been detected in the TRNC.
Near East University researchers completed the first part of the project they conducted to investigate the viral strains of SARS-CoV-2 that cause COVID-19 in the TRNC. According to the results of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Analysis Report announced by Near East University, at least eight different variants of SARS-CoV-2 were detected in the TRNC. Prof. Dr. Tamer Şanlıdağ, Prof. Dr. Murat Sayan, Prof. Bass Oude Munnick, Prof. Dr. H. Kaya Süer, Assoc. Dr. Mahmut Çerkez Ergören, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Buket Baddal, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pınar Tulay, Dr. Reina Sikkema and Researcher Gülten Tuncel Dereboylu took place in the project.
5 different variants detected by December
Within the scope of the project, as a result of the genome sequence analysis carried out with the samples taken from 16 cases diagnosed at the Near East University COVID-19 PCR Diagnostic Laboratory between September 5, 2020 – January 5, 2021, at least eight different SARS-CoV-2 variants have been detected in Northern Cyprus. It was determined that these variants originating from countries showed structural diversity. B.1.1.209 (Netherlands), B.1.1 (USA), B.1.1.82 (Wales), B.1.1.162 (Australia) and B.1 (Italy) variants detected in the TRNC in the September-December period. It has been announced that they did not cause local infection or contagion. As of mid-December, it was determined that three different variants of UK origin (B.1.1.29, B.1.258 and B.1.1.7) started to spread and were effective in local infection.
Local infection caused by B.1.1.29 first appeared in mid-December
During the period when quarantine was applied to the country by sea and air due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in the TRNC as of December 6, 2020, but unquarantined passages from Southern Cyprus were allowed, the first subtypes of B.1.1.29 variant of the United Kingdom appeared in the local cases. In the report prepared by Near East University researchers, it was determined that towards the end of December, B.1.1.29 variant lost its dominance and B.1.258 (United Kingdom) subtype, which was found in 90% of the cases detected in Southern Cyprus, became dominant in our country as a local infection variant. The difference of B.1.258 variant from other types is that it has the N439K mutation. While this mutation increases the contagiousness of SARS-CoV-2, it is also known to be more resistant to neutralizing monoclonal antibody therapy. Another feature is that people who survive the disease have a higher risk of re-infection.
Genome analysis confirmed Near East University’s previous mutated virus statement
The results of the SARS-CoV-2 genome project announced by the Near East University also confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 variant typing studies, which started to be implemented by the Near East University COVID-19 PCR Diagnostic Laboratory as of February 5, 2021. In this context, in the typing studies currently carried out by the Near East University COVID-19 PCR Laboratory, the B.1.1.7 variant has been detected in 45 percent of cases in the first month since 1 January 2021, in 62 percent of cases in February, and detected in 65.2 percent of cases in the first three weeks of March. The B.1.1.7 variant was detected in all (100 percent) of 32 cases diagnosed with COVID-19 between 17-23 March.
Prof. Dr. Tamer Şanlıdağ: “Mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 will determine the course of the pandemic.”
Emphasizing that determining which SARS-CoV-2 variants are spreading in the country is vital in the fight against COVID-19, Near East University Acting Rector Prof. Dr. Tamer Şanlıdağ said, “The mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 will determine the course of the pandemic”. Prof. Dr. Şanlıdağ stated that the results of their research will guide the fight against COVID-19.