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Coronavirus second wave | Sri Lanka's re-emerging COVID-19 strain has high transmissibility: study

Sri Lanka's COVID-19 cases crossed the 10,000-mark with 20 deaths reported on October 31. When the second wave was reported on October 4, there were only 3,396 cases with just 13 deaths.

October 31, 2020 / 08:33 PM IST

Sri Lanka's second COVID-19 wave which began early in October has the mutation associated with high transmissibility, according to a study.

A team of scientists at University of Sri Jayewardenepura carried out genomic sequencing of the virus to determine if the current outbreak is due to spread of different strains, Dr Chandima Jeewandara, a team member told reporters.

Sri Lanka's COVID-19 cases crossed the 10,000-mark with 20 deaths reported on October 31.

Read: Coronavirus second wave: Causes, preventive measures and other things you should know

When the second wave was reported on October 4, there were only 3,396 cases with just 13 deaths. The figures then were coming from mid-March when the first COVID-19 case was reported.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The study has revealed that the current circulating strain is different from the strains that circulated previously.

"We obtained different strains and found that the virus strains circulating in different places in the country, are of a common origin. The previous strains that circulated in Sri Lanka were of the B.1, B.2, B 1.1 and B.4 lineages, the current virus strain is slightly different as it belongs to the B.1.42 lineage," said Jeewandara.

He said the strains were similar at both current large clusters; at the garment export factory and at the Colombo's largest fish market. Both had resulted in 7,083 cases till Saturday.

Despite the current spike, the authorities are not planning to impose another nationwide lockdown. Since October 4, over 150 police divisions in different locations were placed under curfew.

The Western province where the capital Colombo is located is currently under a 72-hour quarantine curfew which is due to end on Monday

Senior health official D Asela Gunawardena said no lockdowns were necessary if the people exercised due care by restricting their movements.
first published: Oct 31, 2020 08:31 pm
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