New sub-lineage of COVID's Delta variant detected in Sri Lanka

Colombo: Sri Lanka on Friday detected a new sub-lineage of the Delta variant of COVID-19, scientifically named B.1.617.2. AY 104, making it the third mutation of the coronavirus to have originated in the island nation.

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant is highly transmissible and was behind the rapid uptick in cases across the world, even in populations with high vaccination rates.

However, the transmissibility of sub-lineage 'AY 104' is yet to be determined. Officials said the samples of the sub-lineage have been sent to laboratories in Hong Kong for further analysis.

The 'AY 104' sub-lineage was detected by the researchers at University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The government varsity's Director, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, Dr Chandima Jeewadara said the new mutation takes the number of variants originating in the country to three.

"The first one was B.411, which is a lineage of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus, the second was B.1.617.2. AY 28 and this is the third one (B.1.617.2. AY 104), Jeewadara said.

He said it was significant that the new variant had been detected in North, North-Central and Southern provinces.

The other indigenous COVID-19 strains were detected in Western Province (capital Colombo). He said the discovery was made after tests were conducted on random samples, of which 288 samples were confirmed for 'AY 104' variant while 479 tested positive for 'AY 28' variant.

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