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The three variants of novel coronavirus - from South Africa, Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK) - are more contagious and have been spreading more across the world, medical scientists and experts have said. The South African strain has been suddenly spreading more in Bangladesh.

A joint study by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB), Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) revealed this.

The findings of the study were released on the website of icddr,b on Wednesday. It said the South African strain has become the most prevalent variant in the country at present. A total of 57 specimens were tested for coronavirus from 18 to 24 March. And the South African variant appeared in 81 per cent of them, with 46 specimens having this strain. Seven specimens were found to have the UK variants while the remaining had other variants.

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A week ago, 99 specimens were tested for coronavirus from 12 to 17 March with 64 having the South African variant. Twelve samples were found to have the UK variant while the remaining had other variants.

The UK variant was first detected in the Bangladesh on 5 January, but data shows the strain speared in the country last December.

According to the Genomic Research Laboratory of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), the South African strain was first detected in the country 6 February.

The Genomic Research Laboratory said the South African variant carries a ‘N501’ mutation helping the virus spread faster. Another mutation ‘E848K’ of this strain is more dangerous since it can trick the body’s immune system and impede the effectiveness of vaccine. This strain increases the risk of getting infected.

Meanwhile, the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) has analysed 185 samples of coronavirus to monitor it mutation and trend. The Nextstrain website has also opened a open tracking Bangladesh-based platform. Almost all coronavirus sequenced in Bangladesh have been included in this platform.

However, the organisation said that over the last three months a negligible number of samples from Bangladesh have been deposited in the coronavirus sequence open data bank, and this is a matter of concern. If the analysis of the corona genome is decreased, it may become be difficult trace its trend. This will make it difficult for the policy makers to take public health related decisions based on the actual situation.

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