Strain B.1.258 of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is currently the most prevalent in Cyprus, according to a scientific study conducted for the analysis and course of the coronavirus in Cyprus, which states that from December 2020 the 90% of infections in Cyprus were with this strain.
The research, which is a scientific collaboration of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology of the University of Cyprus and NIPD Genetics, was carried out with funding from the campaign of the University of Cyprus “Research saves lives”, from the research programs (IDEK) of Professor Leontios Kostis the scientific – financial contribution of NIPD Genetics.
The results of this research, which concern the genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 strains in Cyprus from March 2020 to January 2021, were presented on Friday by Professor Filippos Patsalis, General Manager and Medical Director of Biotechnology NIPD Genetics and Professor Leontios Kostrikis, Head of the Research Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology of the University of Cyprus.
The study lasted ten months and consisted of 768 virus-positive samples.
37 different genealogies of the virus in Cyprus
As the research showed, the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in Cyprus is multiracial, since 37 different genealogies of the virus have been identified.
However, strain B.1.258 is the most prevalent in Cyprus, with the last months reaching 90% of infections, the research shows.
According to the research findings, the phylographic analysis shows that strain B.1.258 was imported to Cyprus from four European countries, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Slovenia and Denmark, while the phylogenetic analysis also shows that this strain is exported from Cyprus to three European countries, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
Mutations similar to the English strain B.1.1.7
Furthermore, research has shown that strain B.1.258 has significant mutations similar to those of English strain B.1.1.7 (UK strain), which increase the virus' transmissibility and its ability to resist the immune system.
Speaking during the presentation, Professor Leontios Kostrikis said that “based on the map of mutations B.1.258 contains the same system of mutations as the English B.1.1.7.
The transmissibility of Β.1.258 is obvious, it has not been detected in Greece
Regarding the prevalence of this strain, as well as its transmissibility, Mr. Kostrikis said that “its transmissibility is obvious”, explaining that B.1.258 appeared in Cyprus in September 2020 and currently dominates 90% of infections in Cyprus.
Asked if there are other countries in the world – and especially in the EU – where this executive plays a leading role, Mr. Kostrikis said that B.1.258 has been found in other countries, as well as in England, however, he noted that in England there is no ” such a high prevalence as in Cyprus “.
“It seems that Cyprus has the highest prevalence. How this strain was created and where it leads remains still unknown. “I think we will have more information in the coming weeks, when we study the phylogenetic analysis of the map of this virus,” he said.
Moreover, he added that the strain B.1.258 has not been detected in Greece, noting the difference of the infection, in two nearby countries.
Asked if the research has located the English executive in Cyprus, Professor Filippos Patsalis replied that “the English executive appears at a rate of 1% in December in the Cypriot population”, adding that “within a month it amounts to 16%”.
“Similar findings,” he said, “have been found in other countries, e.g. in the US, where the English executive is currently around 15% to 18%. So here the conclusion is drawn that by studying the strains we also know the strains, which prevail because they have mutations, which favor transmissibility “.
Possible transmission of B.1.258, hence the resistance to the reduction of daily cases
Asked to predict the course of the virus in Cyprus and whether based on the findings of the research we will do better or worse, Leontios Kostrikis said that he does not know at the moment, however, noted that “what we observe is that this strain has dominated them last six months and perhaps its transmissibility is increased compared to other executives, which is why we see very strong resistance to reducing the number of daily cases.
Regarding the three vaccines that Cyprus has at its disposal (Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca) and whether they are effective in treating B.1.258, Mr. Kostrikis said that the strain B.1.258 seems to have increased transmissibility and may have some resistance to certain antibodies generated by the vaccine.
However, he stressed that “there is no result, which shows that the vaccines do not work”.
Answering a question whether there was a combination of B.1.258 with B.1.1.7 of England, Professor Kostrikis said that they have not yet carefully studied a possible recombination.
“It simply came to our notice then. “It's very likely it happens, we just haven't done any experiments yet to see if there are genomes of the two strains in a hybrid.”
How the research findings will be used
Mr. Kostrikis stressed that the findings of the research belong to the whole world, to note that the next step is the publication of the findings in a reputable scientific journal.
He noted that immediately after the results will be available to anyone who needs them, while he added that “the sequences will be deposited in international banks, as is usual in such studies.”
National Report / Coronavirus: Most deaths in Nicosia – Most cases in Limassol
Home vaccination for COVID-19 people who are bedridden – Initiation of application process
The use of Artificial Intelligence is a weapon for the timely prediction and interception of Covid-19