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Monday, May 31, 2021

Increasing prevalence of South African Covid-19 variant in Malaysia

 


Genome sequencing by the Institute for Medical Research under the Health Ministry is finding an increasing prevalence of the B.1.351 South African Covid-19 variant in the country.

The latest batch of sequencing found a third of them were from the South African variant, which can render the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine significantly less effective.

"The genome sequencing shows that the South African variant has penetrated our country and is present in a number of states," Health Minister Dr Adham Baba (above) told a press conference in Putrajaya.

According to data from the Health Ministry's National Institute of Health, a total of 36 samples were sequenced into the latest batch between May 17 and May 23.

Of those, 12 of them were found to be from the South African variant.

One was from the B.1617 Indian variant while the remaining were local variants.

Adham said to date, a total of 448 samples have been sequenced across 28 batches.

Cumulatively, Adham said, 78 out of the 448 samples sequenced were found to be from the South African variant.

The variant is now present in all peninsular states except Malacca, Terengganu, Pahang and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya.

From the 78 South African variant cases, most were found in Selangor and Kelantan.

A total of 31 of them were found in Selangor, followed by 18 in Kelantan, 10 in Perak, seven in Kedah, four in Kuala Lumpur, three in Penang, two in Perlis, two in Negeri Sembilan and one in Johor.

AstraZeneca has said that it will be tweaking future batches of its Covid-19 vaccine so that they can counter the South African variant.

Eight of the 448 sequenced samples were from the UK B.1.17 variant while six were from the Indian B.1617 variant. The remaining were not categorised as "variants of concern".

K'tan has highest positivity rate

Variants of concern are Covid-19 strains that are either deadlier or more virulent.

In a related development, Adham revealed that Kelantan had the highest positivity rate in the country, at 11.48 percent.

That means 11.48 percent of all tested persons turn up positive with Covid-19.

This is followed by Negeri Sembilan (10.03 percent), Labuan (8.78 percent), Putrajaya (8.61 percent), Selangor (7.9 percent), Kedah (7 percent), Terengganu (5.8 percent), Sarawak (5.7 percent), Johor (5.79 percent), Kuala Lumpur (5.7 percent), Penang (5.6 percent), Pahang (5 percent), Perak (4.7 percent), Sabah (3.8 percent), Perlis (3.76 percent).

This is for the period of May 23 to 29. However, it should be noted that a high positivity rate can also be due to low testing.

The number of tests for the same period are as follow: Kelantan (38,516), Negeri Sembilan (33,055), Labuan (8,526), Putrajaya (2,404), Selangor (212,197), Malacca (24,906), Kedah (40,253), Terengganu (28,467), Sarawak (78,471), Johor (69,944), Kuala Lumpur (77,949), Penang (47,467), Pahang (29,616), Perak (39,623) and Sabah (41,862). - Mkini



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