Research by MWB UG and GUMED scientists confirms the presence of "British genotype" virus in Pomerania

In conjunction with the beginning of the national programme for monitoring the variability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Poland, scientists of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology (MWB) of the University of Gdańsk and the Medical University of Gdańsk under the direction of dr Łukasz Rąbalski performed a pilot high-throughput study of the full genome sequences of the pandemic coronavirus. The study confirmed the presence of a 'British genotype' of the virus in two remote counties. A variant of the virus with the potential for the greater spread was isolated from samples taken between January 8-13, 2021. Genetic analysis of the samples began on January 26.

The initial preparation and sample characteristics were performed in the Laboratory of Haematology of the University Clinical Centre in Gdańsk and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology Diagnostyka sp. z o.o. in Gdańsk. The pilot, in-depth genetic analysis in the Pomeranian voivodship will also be continued in the coming week with the involvement of other units such as the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine in Gdynia.

At the national level, the programme will be coordinated by prof. dr hab. Krzysztof Pyrć from the Jagiellonian University's Małopolskie Biotechnology Centre. The working group will also include other institutions and companies. The activities of scientists are to quickly identify new and monitor the spread of already known, potentially harmful mutations in the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Earlier, the British genetic variant was detected in infected persons from the Małopolskie and Mazowieckie voivodships.

In the international GISAID database, which collects information on genomes, there are 522 entries from Poland, including 97 from the Pomeranian voivodeship. Genetic research was undertaken in laboratories in Gdańsk and Kraków already at the beginning of the pandemic. MWB UG and GUMed, after the completion of the pilot study and the launch of the SARS-CoV-2 virus variability monitoring programme in Poland, can provide about 300 genetic sequences per week.

Dr Łukasz Rąbalski