28 January 2021
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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan clarified on Thursday that at present there is no evidence that coronavirus has undergone a mutation giving it an additional virulence.
Responding to APP queries, he strongly dispelled the misconception about a mutant strain in the country and stressed that all viruses mutate with time and therefore it is nothing unusual.
A health ministry official contacted by APP via phone said “there is no evidence that virus mutation can not be detected through PCR (testing) nor do we have evidence that transmission of the virus changes its strain”.
The remarks came in response to concerns that the PCR test cannot reliably detect the new supposedly “mutated” virus.
Dr Zahra Hasan, a member of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP), elaborating further told APP that robust diagnostic tests are designed to detect multiple target sites so that random point mutations do not affect their sensitivity.
“Robust PCR tests have at least two target genes and that way you should not miss diagnosing the target just because you may sequence variations in one target or other,” she said.
“We do not have any clinical evidence that mutations are causing a difference in the disease; it’s still speculation,” said Dr Hasan, also a professor at Aga Khan University.
She reiterated that “Genome Sequencing” is ongoing and it will help us understand the strain diversity and disease associated with the strains.
The doctor stressed that people must continue to strictly adhere to coronavirus safety protocols and help contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as flu in the country.

Abdul Gh Lone