Researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) said in a report that they had sequenced genomes of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The researchers at KEMRI’s Center for Virus Research (CVR) said they had obtained vital information about the genetic composition of viral strains in 122 of the confirmed cases in Kenya.
The researchers in collaboration with the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) analyzed 122 samples from the selected cases to gain a comprehensive understanding of the variations of the virus that are present in the country.
“This successful sequencing for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in Kenya is a significant milestone in the response to the pandemic in Kenya and the entire world,” Yeri Kombe, director general of KEMRI said.
He said this will strengthen surveillance for tracking mutations of the virus and aid in the tracing of the sources of community infections.
Kombe said that genetic sequences can provide insights on person to person transmission, which can be visualized by drawing of genetic trees based on changes in the genetic sequence.
The report said that infections detected and confirmed in March were largely from virus importation into the country.
The report, first of its kind in Kenya shows that SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the country do not differ from others circulating elsewhere in the world.
It said that sequencing will be used to describe the pattern of continuing spread both within communities and between counties across the country.
The report said that additional sequencing could also provide information on infections that have been missed and guide testing strategies for the compilation of the most comprehensive information about an organism’s genetic makeup.
The researchers have also developed the required capacity within Kenya for monitoring the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the country.
They urged scaling up of capacity across the country to generate a SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence library to support and guide public health control measures. Enditem