Scientists from Brazil and the United Kingdom have managed to sequence the coronavirus genome detected in a 61-year-old Brazilian in just 48 hours, the only case confirmed to date in the South American country, official sources reported Friday.
According to the Government of Sao Paulo, this is the first time that the genetic sequence of the coronavirus causing COVID-19 pneumonia has been deciphered in Latin America, where the case of Brazil and two others in Mexico have barely been registered.
The work was carried out by the Adolfo Lutz Institute of Brazil, a national reference laboratory, together with the Institute of Tropical Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and the University of Oxford.
The international scientific community can now consult from Friday the complete genome of the virus that infected the Brazilian patient, who had previously traveled to Italy, the most affected country in Europe for this new disease with flu-like symptoms.
"The complete genome data" of the new coronavirus, which emerged in China and has caused an international health crisis, is "essential for the development of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and important for understanding the spread of the virus and for detecting mutations ", said a researcher Claudio Sacchi, from the Adolfo Lutz Institute.
The scientists performed the sequence by nanopores through a portable device launched by a British "start-up" that connects to a computer program capable of "translating" the genome.
"That sequencer is smaller than a cell phone (mobile phone) and is connected to a computer via a USB cable," explained Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, of the USP Institute of Tropical Medicine.
Preliminary analyzes indicate that the genome identified in Brazil contains three mutations with respect to the reference strain of the Chinese city of Wuhan, epicenter of the virus.
Two of those changes detected are close to the strain found in Germany.
Therefore, the virus detected in the Brazilian patient, who is isolated at home and with a stable clinical picture, has a greater genetic similarity with the cases detected in Europe.
The man was between the past 9 and 21 February in Lombardy, in northern Italy, from where he returned to Brazil via Paris, where he made a connection to Sao Paulo.
His diagnosis was confirmed last Wednesday and then it was the first case of coronavirus in Latin America.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported Friday that it also investigates another 182 suspected cases of coronavirus in the country, most of them located in the state of Sao Paulo (66), and that it has already ruled out 71.
This Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the risk of global coronavirus expansion to "very high."
"The continuous monitoring of new suspicious cases in Brazil will be essential to monitor new imports of the virus and also to identify initial local transmission groups in the country, if any," collects the report of the scientists who participated in the coordinated genome sequence From Brazil.
All of them are part of the CADDE project, an entity supported by the Amparo Foundation for the Research of the State of Sao Paulo (Fapesp) and the Medical Research Centers, in the United Kingdom, which develops new techniques to monitor epidemics in real time.
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