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Cape scientists isolate SA’s first live Covid-19 culture

Published May 11, 2020

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CAPE TOWN- A team of scientists in the Western Cape have isolated a pure live culture of the Covid-19 virus which will be used in experimentation.

The collaborative efforts of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Stellenbosch University (SU) enabled clinical samples to be obtained from Covid-19 positive patients at Tygerberg Hospital, in Cape Town.

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Post-doctoral research fellow in the (UWC) Medical Biosciences department Dr Tasnim Suliman was able to extract a live culture of the virus from these samples.

Suliman said that “having a pure culture of the virus opens doors for research in South Africa.”

While isolating the virus has been done in other countries such as Germany, Canada and the United States, South Africa is the first African country to have succeeded in isolating and testing on a live Covid-19 culture.

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“Currently, much of the data that exists on this novel virus is based on detecting the genetic material, which is still possible after the virus is ‘dead’, and does not confirm whether the virus is viable and able to cause infection. Now we can experiment on the live virus and observe how it actually behaves in the lab,” said Suliman.

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