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16 mutations of Covid-19 strains emerge from South Africa

Published Nov 6, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Since the first report of Covid-19 cases in South Africa, the virus had spread rapidly throughout the country with 16 unique mutations of the novel virus identified in the region.

The study that identified these unique 'lineages' - a genetic makeup - had been published recently in medRxiv with researchers from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Brazil finding these mutations in SARS-CoV-2 were unique to South Africa and may have contributed to 42 percent of the country's total infection rate.

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The team of researchers compared the lineages to the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 that was first detected in Wuhan, China and found 16 unique mutations with the other lineage called C1 had caused multiple infections across provinces with KwaZulu-Natal containing the most samples.

The team then formed the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) to better understand the spread of Covid-19 which is an organisation of scientists that work with the national government laboratories to analyse data quicker.

The scientists analysed 1,365 high-quality genetic material samples and compiled a map of the emerging South African mutations and with the spread across the country, they found just three of the unique strains caused over half the infections in the country.

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The researchers believe their findings may help combat and contain the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa proving the virus mutates for the benefit in transmission as these mutations took place during a time of hard-lockdown where international travel was limited.

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