UNAIR Epidemiology expert: Sequencing, key to B117 strain tracing

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Illustration of DNA sequencing. (Source: Labsatu News)

UNAIR NEWS – A press conference conducted by Deputy Minister of Health (Wamenkes) Dante Saksono Harbuwono on March 2, 2021, confirmed that mutation of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus named Strain B117 had been found in Indonesia. The discovery of this new mutation case makes the public worried.

UNAIR Epidemiology expert Dr. M. Atoillah Isfandiari, dr. M. Kes, on Thursday, March 18, 2021, said that known from cases abroad, Strain B117 does not increase the severity. However, in-vitro studies found the potential for an increase of transmission by 40 to 80 percent.

Therefore, Atoillah said, anticipatory efforts should be focused more on preventing the potential for greater transmission in the upstream, not on anticipating an increase in symptom severity downstream or in hospitals. The symptoms reported by some patients are predominantly fever and cough, which are so far, more or less, similar symptoms with the Covid-19 virus in general.

Vice Dean II of Faculty of Public Health UNAIR said that for Indonesia, the discovery of more Strain B117 cases was due to laboratory studies, where the patient’s blood sample was  RNA sequenced, and this was not a routine examination.

In sequencing, all RNA virus are read (whole genome), not just detecting positives or negatives,” said Ato.

In his opinion, sequencing is one of the right ways to detect the transmission of Strain B117 in Indonesia. However, not all patient samples in Indonesia can be sequenced because it is costly.

Ato said infection from a viral mutation could be prevented by the existing vaccines or not depending on the location and shape of the mutation because in principle, the mutation of the virus affects the formation of RNA which is expected to be recognized by the antibodies in the body resulting from the vaccination.

“Because our bodies are taught the vaccine to recognize certain RNA strands and if it turns out that this virus (SARS-CoV-2, ed) is a mutation, as long as the mutation does not change the RNA thread, our antibodies will recognize, any mutation and anywhere, the body will still be able to recognize and prevent it from replicating in our bodies, “he explained.

In this regard, virologists assume that the current vaccine is still effective at preventing infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 Strain B117. UNAIR as the best university in Indonesia is developing Merah Putih vaccine so Indonesia will be free from Covid-19. (*)

Author: Asthesia Dhea Cantika

Editor : Binti Q. Masruroh

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