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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Cuba gathers task force for the study of genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2

Havana, Jan 23.- Cuba has a multidisciplinary group for the investigation of the new genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán Tirado, chief of the Center for Research, Diagnosis and Reference of the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK).

Exclusively to the Cuban News Agency (ACN), the specialist explained that the IPK leads this group, which has the purpose of carrying out studies related to the identification of virus mutations, the forecast of possible scenarios and the development of the vaccine candidates.

The institutions that make it up are the universities of Computer Sciences and Havana, the provincial centers of Hygiene and Epidemiology of the capital, Matanzas, Villa Clara and Santiago de Cuba, as well as the network of Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories.

The Finlay Vaccine Institute, the Centers for Molecular Immunology and Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), and the AIDS Research Laboratory of the Civil Defense Scientific Research Center are also part of it.

This Friday, the detection in Cuba of an imported case of the South African variant of the virus was reported at a press conference, which has already spread to 20 nations and has increased the number of infected with the disease.

Although none of the contacts of the diagnosed patient were positive, Guzmán Tirado insisted on maintaining hygienic measures and physical distancing, since it is possible that the mutation is in the country or others will arrive in later days.

He specified that the new virus is more transmissible, affects a greater number of people and spreads rapidly, so it can infect vulnerable groups and increase mortality.

Likewise, in order to guarantee effective immunization strategies against mutations, the CIGB strengthens its vaccine candidates against variants of the pandemic with a greater capacity to infect and aggravate damage to health, the Doctor in Biological Sciences Gerardo Guillén Nieto told the ACN, Director of Biomedical Research of that institution.

He indicated that there is no evidence that current genetic variants affect the protective response of Cuban drugs, but vigilance must be maintained.

The eminent scientist, who led a dengue vaccine project in 1997, specified that the research incorporates new proteins in its vaccine candidates to diversify the protective response. (ACN) (Photo: File / Ismael Batista)