(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The release of details of a ‘half-done’ study by a group of scientists at the University of Karachi, claiming that their analysis of the whole genome sequence of coronavirus will be helpful in decision making at national level for the use of future therapeutic options and vaccinations, has generated concerns among experts.
“Analysis of the sequence revealed nine mutations in the different regions of genome, as compared to the sequence reported from Wuhan, China,” where the virus originated three months back.
“Mutation is change which appears in the DNA of all organisms and viruses, Dr Choudhary said, adding that comparison with genomes from other parts of the world revealed that virus examined at Jamil-ur-Rahman Center for Genome Research was more closely related to the virus from China, the point from where the pandemic was started.
A day earlier, a senior scientist from the University had claimed that the virus was different than the one in Wuhan and was less harmful, said a scientist requesting secrecy.
"In pandemic it becomes more important to monitor the way, rate and nature of mutations which may have impact on effectiveness of future therapies and vaccinations," the ICCBS director said while recommending that more genomes from Pakistani patients were sequenced to understand the full spectrum of genetic variations, and the way the virus was evolving here.
Interestingly, the research details did not mention the age, gender and place of treatment of the patient from whom the RNA was drawn for the scientific research at the KU facility in question.
It was claimed in the press release that the genome sequencing of Coronavirus collected from a local patient having a travel history was complete now.
An enquiry conducted by this scribe in the matter revealed that the sample was drawn from a child belonging to a locally infected cluster of people.
“The subject in question has never visited abroad,” claimed a source privy to the handling of the oropharyngeal swab specimen obtained for genome sequence at a public sector medical university.
In the meantime, experts have termed the development a premature assessment, rather a ridiculous move as the KU Centre needed to seek more such samples from different hospitals.
They are also silent about the in question traveler's exact place of visit. “Why does not the solitary scientist in question interact with experts related to the subject?” “We need to apply our experts' brain and support as well along with the machines”, said a keen observer, adding that efforts should be made to ensure protection and treatment out of the available resources.
Meanwhile a senior microbiologist and pathologists at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Prof M Saeed Khan, in a television interview, said that the research details pertained to a collaborative study undertaken by a KU centre and Dow university, but it was difficult to draw any conclusion about the behaviour of the virus at this stage, particularly when the human genetic in the country is different from other parts of the world.
“The virus under study was isolated by DUHS scientists from among a sizeable number of Coronavirus patients, while it is anticipated that research would move out of the initial stage,” he added.