Coronavirus genes have been found to have mutated 590 times so far in Bangladesh, research conducted by the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) found, according to local media reports.
The BCSIR, a Bangladeshi government scientific research and regulatory body, based its findings on 171 cases of gene sequencing. The type of virus found in Bangladesh was found to most closely resemble the coronavirus in Europe, Bangaldesh-based news The Business Standard reported Sunday.
“In Bangladesh, the virus so far has mutated 590 times at the gene level, and more than 273 times at the protein level,” Dr. Salim Khan, the head of genomic research laboratories at the BCSIR lab told the Standard.
Experts have previously noted that the mutation rate of COVID-19 is similar to that of other coronaviruses.
In April, Emma Hodcroft, a co-developer of Nextstrain, a platform that uses open-source data to examine scientific and public health potential of pathogen genome data, told Al Arabiya English that while COVID-19 is mutating, it is not doing so at an alarming rate.
“The two most different types of strains still have less than 40 mutations, and the whole genome is 29,000 bases long. So that’s 40 out of 29,000. If you pick two strains at random, they’d be more like 10-20 variations,” she said.
Genome sequencing of the coronavirus can provide clues to researches on how to prepare a vaccine, Khan explained. Global health authorities and pharmaceutical companies are currently in a worldwide race to develop treatments and a cure for COVID-19, with research taking place at a breakneck speed as many standard restrictions on development are lifted.
“In Bangladeshi samples, we have detected strains of all countries, but mostly from the European ones,” Khan told the Standard.
Infections have been on the rise in Bangladesh, which so far has over 200,000 confirmed cases. Khan pointed to one strain, protein number 614, as the particular culprit behind the spread of the virus in the country.
“In 95 percent of cases, the D614G strain was detected during sequencing. This is the key reason for infections in Bangladesh,” he said, according to the Standard.