A.30 strain of SARS-CoV-2 no cause for immediate concern, almost extinct: Sri Lankan expert

ECONOMYNEXT – Recent media reports that Sri Lanka is on high alert over the A.30 strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is not cause for immediate concern, according to a specialist.

Dr Chandima Jeewandara, Director of the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit at the university of Sri Jayewardenepura, said the lineage has almost gone extinct.

The British scientific journal Nature reported on October 25 that A.30, also termed A.VOI.V2, that was detected in several patients in Angola, the United Kingdom and Sweden, exhibits a cell line preference not observed for other viral variants and efficiently evades neutralization by antibodies elicited by ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca/Covishield) or BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccination.

Last week, media reports in Sri Lanka quoted State Minister of Pharmaceutical Regulation Channa Jayasumana saying that experiments are under way in Europe to prevent the strain from spreading in the upcoming winter season.

“It will be a major issue for European countries if the virus spreads at a time like this. Health officials in Sri Lanka are also aware of the lineage,” Jayasumana told reporters last Sunday (31).

Dr Jeewandara, however, said the A.30 lineage is presently not spreading on a global scale, according to available data. The lineage is almost extinct, he claimed.

Jeewandara tweeted on Tuesday (02) that out of more than 4.5 genomes deposited on the GISAID database, only five belong to the A.30 lineage: three in Angola, one in Sweden, and one in the UK. The last of these were collected in May/June 2021.

The lineage is said to have 18 protein spike mutation. Jeewandara said the lineage comprises an “impressive collection of mutations that is capable of true immune escape”.

“It may be going undetected in some locations where testing capacities are limited,” Jeewandara said.

Vaccination still remains the best protection, he added.

“This study is not a suggestion that vaccination is not effective against the variant and getting a COVID vaccine is still the best option to fight the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, in an interview given to the privatel owned Siyatha network, Jeewandara said a sample of the Sri Lankan Delta variant, which was named as B.1.617.2.28 and given the lineage AY.28 has been sent to Hong Kong China for further studies.

As per University of Sri Jayawardenapura data, currently two delta variants present in the country have overtaken the earlier Alpha variant and are spreading in the country.

Jeewandara said even though A.30 has not been detected since June 2021, continuous surveillance will be carried out. (Colombo/Nov03/2021)

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