Health director: More research needed to determine new strains of Covid-19 virus

Dr Chin speaking at the press conference at the Old DUN complex, in Kuching today

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Feb 19: More research and investigations needed to be carried out on various samples from throughout Sarawak in order to determine the new strains of SARS-CoV-2 virus which have been detected earlier in Sarawak, said State Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing.

He said, the new strains that have been detected in the State were just part of the picture but not a complete one yet.

“In order to get to the conclusion (now) is too early. We need more samples to be analyzed and we need to send some of the samples to the Institute of Medical Research, Malaysia (IMR).

“So, we need more of those results, then probably we can have a better picture. But (for) now, not yet, as both cases are still under investigation,” Dr Chin told a press conference here today.

He reiterated that more investigations needed to be done before a conclusion could be made on the new strains.

“There are a lot of samples they gathered at Unimas. So far, this is just a part of the ongoing investigation, they haven’t had the full study.

“For this, we need to know a lot of samples from different locations in order to know what strains there are because the analysis will take time. At present, the cases we know is part of it. We haven’t got the full picture to know what strains they are. So, from there, then we can pinpoint what strains they are and from where there are from,” said Dr Chin.

He disclosed that investigations on new stains are being carried out by Unimas and the Institute of Medical Research, Malaysia (IMR).

“So, we need information together before we can do any conclusion,” he added.

Last week, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had highlighted on his official Facebook post that the two cases, namely the B.1.470 and B.1.160 variants have been detected in Sarawak.

However, Dr Hisham said, there was currently no evidence to show that the stains from Sarawak had a higher level of infectivity.

The two cases were based on the report by Unimas whereby the first variant, B.1.470, is likely to have come from Indonesia, which has a 67.7 per cent similar strain, although its true origins had yet to be determined.

It was reported that the virus has the D614G mutation, which is found in almost all of the SARS-CoV-2 strains that have been reported.

It has been reported that the B.1.160 variant has been commonly found in European countries since July 2020 starting from France (11.2 per cent) and is now dominated by Denmark (28 per cent), Switzerland (15.4 per cent) and the United Kingdom (UK) (17.2 per cent), which has spike mutations D614G and S477N.

Meanwhile, chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said, during the National Security Council (MKT) meeting today, Dr Hisham had specifically mentioned that the B.1.470 and B.1.160 strains detected in Sarawak were not the latest variants, thus agreeing with Dr Chin that more investigations and research needed to be done. – DayakDaily