The Estonian government has decided to support the study on the strains of SARS-CoV-2 with an additional 400,000 euros to allow the early detection of the possible occurrence of the new and potentially more rapidly spreading strains in Estonia.
Recently, there have been discussions of the emergence of several new and hypothetically more infectious strains of SARS-CoV-2, linked to the rapid increase in the infection rates. Researchers of the University of Tartu have continuously studied the strains of SARS-CoV-2 in Estonia throughout the pandemic. More than 300 genomes have been sequenced and analysed. So far, the more rapidly spreading virus strain has not been found in Estonia.
Minister of Education and Research Jaak Aab noted that additional studies help to monitor and analyse the paths of the virus. “The more information our researchers have, the more accurate are their estimates of the speed of the future spread of the virus,” explained Aab. “Early detection of the more rapidly spreading strains is also important for a realistic evaluation of the efficacy of the restrictions and measures already in force.”
“In the project KoroGeno-Est-1, more than 300 whole genomes of SARS-CoV-2 were sequenced in Estonia. KoroGeno-Est-2 aims to determine 350 whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 to ascertain the percentage of the potentially more infectious virus strains spreading abroad among the viruses causing new infections in Estonia,” said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik. “Information to be received from this project is crucial for the Health Board, the COVID-19 scientific advisory board and the government for identifying outbreaks and applying evidence-based national restrictions for curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.”