Ugandan Covid-19 variant has mutations associated with higher transmissibility but there is no compelling evidence yet - Dumpis

  • 2021-03-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Ugandan Covid-19 variant has mutations associated with higher transmissibility, but unlike in the case of the UK Covid-19 strain, there is still no compelling evidence to prove it, the Health Ministry's chief infectious disease specialist Uga Dumpis told LETA. 

This Covid-19 variant was first described in Uganda where it is the prevalent strain, Dumpis said, adding that most likely this coronavirus strain arrived in Latvia from the UK. 

"The virus has many different variants," the infectious disease specialist said, warning that the more variants are brought to Latvia the higher the likelihood that some of them will be more dangerous. 

As reported, the laboratory of the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center has detected a local spread of the Ugandan Covid-19 strain (A.23.1) in Latvia, Janis Klovins, head of the center's scientific council, informed LETA.

He said that two weeks ago, the sequencing of the coronavirus' genome revealed the Ugandan variant in three of the 192 analyzed samples, or 1.56 percent. This week, the Ugandan variant was found already in four of the 96 test samples, or 4 percent. All these cases were registered in Latvia's southwestern port city of Liepaja, Klovins said.

"We are already seeing an increase in this strain. Data on the Ugandan Covid-19 variant is still scarce, but the strain is considered to be potentially dangerous, as it has been spreading extensively in Uganda where it is the prevalent variant. It is also widespread in the UK," Klovins said, adding that research is still needed to establish how dangerous that strain is. However, Klovins urged caution, because the spread of the new Covid-19 variant has increased, suggesting that this strain might be more transmissible than the original one.

A.23.1 is a Covid-19 strain that was first discovered in Uganda, but it is different from the Covid-19 variant that was first found in South Africa. The South African Covid-19 has not been found in Latvia yet.

The Ugandan Covid-19 variant is already spreading in the UK and has somehow reached Latvia, Klovins said.