by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BERNAMA
A TOTAL of 1,246 (94.9%) of the 1,312 SARS-CoV-2 virus samples that were analysed were identified as Delta variants, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba (picture).
He said the samples processed through genome sequencing in seven laboratories also found 11 Beta variants and another 55 from other variants.
“These samples, as of Sept 30, were selected by the Health Ministry (MoH) and taken from all over Malaysia.
“This Delta variant is more dangerous with higher infectivity rate and can lead to the rapid emergence of new local clusters,” he said in a statement.
Dr Adham added that unvaccinated individuals are at high risk of being easily infected by this variant and therefore, vaccination is the best protection.
He said to date, no Mu variant was detected from the samples and the consortium will continue to monitor the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 variants. Meanwhile, Dr Adham announced that Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) has approved a fund of RM3.2 million under the Strategic Research Fund to fund the SARS-CoV-2 virus genome sequencing project.
It is expected to sequence 3,000 SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes to identify and monitor variants, especially variants of concern as well as variants of interest like Lambda and Mu.
“There is also an additional fund of RM13.9 million to the consortium, which includes seven laboratories under Mosti, MoH and the Higher Education Ministry.
“The consortium facilitates collaboration and generates research results in the field of SARS-CoV-2 viral infectious diseases, thereby catalysing the development of local vaccines.”
Dr Adham also highlighted that through this programme, test capacity has been successfully increased fivefold, with the total number of tests for the laboratories exceeding 1,000 genome tests per month compared to 200 a month previously.