UK COVID-19 variant not detected in N. Macedonia, according to MANU’s latest analysis


The Ministry of Health said Monday that UK SARS-CoV-2 variant has not been detected in North Macedonia.

MANU lab has sequenced close to 180 genomes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, collected in the country from June 2020 to January 11, 2021, and preliminary data does not confirm the detection of the fast-mutating variant from England, Health Ministry said in a press release.

The latest data refer to analysis of 50 genomes in the period from December 2020 until January 11, 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 180 genomes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been analyzed and the presence of 20 strains of the virus has been detected, read the press release.

Of the present strains of the virus, B.1.1 and B.1.1.70 have been found in 75% of patients. Both strains have been present since the beginning of the pandemic, of which B.1.1 strain (mostly spread in Greece, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Turkey, Russia, etc.) and its frequency has been stable, while the frequency of B.1.1.70 strain (identified in Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo) has increased in recent months and is currently identified in patients.

This increase in B.1.1.70 strain has been associated with the presence of an additional Q677H mutation in the spike protein of the virus that was first detected in June 2020 in COVID-19 patient from Ohrid and this variant strain has been dominant since November onwards in our country.Although no functional testing of this variant has been conducted, according to the epidemiological data on ending the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, it is assumed that the variant strain is not linked with increased transmission, nor with the severity of COVID-19 in patients.

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