Malaysia has sequenced 265 Covid-19 samples as part of its genomic surveillance efforts in the last two weeks, all of which turned out to be the Delta variant.
The data reflects trends in many parts of the world, where the highly transmissible variant quickly outcompetes other variants in finding new patients and displaces it as the dominant variant.
Apart from high transmissibility, the variant is also associated with an increased risk of severe illness and death, though it is not as capable as some earlier variants such as Beta in evading vaccine protections.
According to the Health Ministry, the latest round of sequencing was conducted from Aug 16 to 29 by three institutions.
Most of the sequencing was done by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Institute of Health and Community Medicine, which sequenced a total of 178 samples.
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara Selangor’s Integrative Pharmacogenomics Institute sequenced 48 samples, and the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) sequenced 39 samples.
The breakdown of the samples by state of origin is as follows:
Negeri Sembilan (8)
Kuala Lumpur (3)
The data was released by the Health Ministry in a statement last night. It did not disclose how samples were selected for sequencing.
Previously, the National Institute of Health had said IMR’s samples are chosen from representative cases in places that are experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. Some cases are also referred by clinicians to the IMR for sequencing if unusual clinical findings are observed.
Only high-quality samples are selected to boost the chances of successful sequencing. The process takes about 10 days or more from sample preparation to bioinformatic analysis.
The trend in Covid-19 variants identified through genomic sequencing in Malaysia - as compiled by Malaysiakini based on Health Ministry data - is shown in the chart below.
It shows that Delta variant has supplanted the previously prevalent Beta variant by late June (Week 26) and has become almost completely dominant.
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