With the detection of a patient with the Indian variant of Covid-19, a total of six variants of Covid-19 have been identified so far in Sri Lanka.
These Covid-19 variants including the B.1.617 variant first reported in India, were identified by the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
In addition to the Indian variant, B.1.1.7 (UK variant), B.1.428 (Denmark/European/Middle East variant), B.1.411 (Sri Lankan variant), B 1.525 (Nigerian variant) and the B.1.351 (South African variant) have been identified in the country.
The Opposition has accused the Rajapaksa government of mismanaging the health crisis in the island nation and for facilitating the ingress of various Covid-19 variants. The government's move to bring down tourists from Ukraine and India as part of its efforts to revive the fledgling tourism industry may have also played a part in the rapid spread of these variants across the island, they alleged.
The Rajapaksa government was accused of deliberately downplaying the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic by promoting honey concoctions and syrups to create a false sense of security.
Parliamentarians such as Vasudeva Nanayakkara who proudly proclaimed in Parliament that Sri Lanka does not need vaccines any time soon have conveniently vaccinated themselves bypassing the general public.
Although many world leaders have publicly participated in their country's inoculation drives to help alleviate fears about vaccines, there isn't' a single photograph showing the Rajapaksas getting vaccinated, creating doubts as to whether they have already been vaccinated in secret.
According to samples sequenced from Covid positive patients across the country until April 30, the six variants have been detected in the following areas.
The B.1.1.7 (UK variant/Kent variant)
Colombo: CMC, Homagama, Boleresgamuwa
Kurunegala: Polpithigama, Kuliyapitiya, Nikawaratiya, Ganewatta, Ambalanpola,
Giriulla, Pannala, Wariyapola
Kalutara: Agalawatta, Pimbura, Panadura, Palindaruwa, Bandaragama
Kandy: Pandwasnuwara, Kandy, Hingurakoda
Mannar: Mannar town
The B.1.428 (Denmark/European/ Middle East variant)
Jaffna (especially Nallur cluster)
B.1.411 (Sri Lankan variant)
B.1.525 (Nigerian variant)
B.1.617 (Indian variant):
B.1.351 (South African variant):
On April 8, the Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said that he was "shocked" to find the UK variant learn from his research that the UK variant was spreading in Sri Lanka.
The research team at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine had immediately informed the Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force for prevention of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana recently stated in Parliament that even until end of April, the research team has not provided anything conclusive regarding this new variant of Covid-19.
However, on April 28, the Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Dr. Chandima Jeewandara had stated that the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus which is spreading in the UK has been identified as the cause for the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus in this country.
Sri Lanka has so far reported over 125,906 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 801 deaths.
The statement issued by the research team of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura headed by Prof. Neelika Malavige and Dr. Chandima Jeewandara is found below.