A study by researchers of Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) found that mostly the UK variant and partly the South African variant of coronavirus are behind the second wave of Covid-19 in port city, which started in late March.
However, the Indian variant (B.1.617) of SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for the raging second wave in India, was not found in any sample collected from both hospitalised and non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients in port city between March 28 and April 3.
In that period, 2,392 people were Covid-19 positive out of 17,023 tested, and 12 died.
"We initiated the study at the peak of the second wave to know which variant of SARS-CoV-2 is behind infections in Chattogram," said Prof Dr Goutam Buddha Das, vice-chancellor of CVASU, who led the study. "We have found that mostly the UK variant and partly South African variant are behind the second wave in Chattogram."
"Sixty percent of the samples had traces of the UK variant, while thirty percent had the South African variant," he said.
"Although we have taken a very small number of samples, the significance of the study is that all those have been taken at random and covered different age groups, ranging between 22 and 65 years, of both male and female patients," he continued.
"The study will help in understanding the mode of the second wave and taking preventive measures," he said.
"We conducted a similar type of study, after onset of the pandemic last year, and it was seen that the Italian and Chinese variants were behind the first wave," said Dr Goutam.
As part of the study, 10 samples were collected for whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, said Prof Sharmin Chowdhury of pathology at CVASU, also a member of the research team. The samples were sent to the laboratory of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) for whole genome sequencing.
After genome sequencing, it was seen that six of them were infected by the UK variant (B.1.1.7), while three were infected by the South African variant (B.1.351), and one was infected by the Australian variant.
Of the 10 patients, five were to be hospitalised, and the others took treatment at home, said Dr Sharmin.
"Apart from seven researchers from CVASU, two researchers from BCSIR also took part in this research," she said, adding that result of the study was updated in the international database.
Asked, Dr Goutam said to prevent spread of the Indian variant in the country, Indian truck drivers, who transport goods from India, should be allowed to enter into Bangladesh after checking Covid-19 negative certificate.
"Besides, a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine should be imposed on those who would come from India and other countries labelled as highly risky," he said. "The most important point for everybody is to follow health rules when going outside."