Two strains of the deadly coronavirus and 70 different mutations have been found in the UAE, the spokesperson for the country’s advanced sciences sector, Dr. Alawi Ali al-Sheikh said.
Worldwide, researchers have identified a total of three strains of the coronavirus so far.
These include the main strain (strain A), and two other strains (B and C) which were derived from it, he said.
To determine which strains exist in the UAE, researchers conducted a study using findings from 49 coronavirus patients and analyzed the complete genetic sequencing for 25 of the early cases that were detected in the country.
Based on the 25 cases, the study found that 24 have strain B of the coronavirus, al-Sheikh said, adding that most of those cases were in individuals who had traveled to Europe or came into contact with someone who had.
The other case, detected in a Chinese tourist arriving from Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus, had strain A, according to al-Sheikh.
The findings also indicated the presence of 70 different mutations of the virus in the UAE, 17 of which have not been identified in efforts to sequence the virus, he added.
“This is an achievement for the UAE in which our country is contributing to the global scientific community’s efforts to understand COVID-19 by providing this information to an international research database for scientists and researchers,” he concluded.
When a person is infected with any virus, including COVID-19, the disease takes over human cells and turns them into factories that produce millions of new viruses, al-Sheikh explained.
Slight changes take place in the genetic strains of the virus in which new strains, or genetic variants, are developed, he added.
“This is normal because of most of these genetic changes do not really change the nature of the virus or its symptoms,” according to al-Sheikh.