Experts cannot tell with certainty yet if the new spike in coronavirus cases across Bosnia and Herzegovina was caused by new strains like various people of different professions claim nowadays in media statements, medical genetics specialist Rijad Konjhodzic told N1. He also explained why the discovered coronavirus mutations cannot be called strains unless this is confirmed by competent institutions.
He said that three institutions work on virus sequencing and have so far detected different coronavirus lines in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is not done for commercial but scientific purposes, he added.
“People must understand that (virus) sequencing is not a commercial thing. The sequencing is done in BiH only for the purpose of science and the state has not sponsored any of this,” Konjhodzic said, adding that he was particularly proud of the staff at the Veterinary Medicine Faculty and Alea Institute in Sarajevo which were alongside a university in Berlin the only institutions that carried out the sequencing of viruses detected in BiH.
He finds it “irresponsible” to have people speaking in public about new strains and how they trigger difficult medical conditions without any data supporting that idea.
“Not everyone is a molecular biologist or geneticists. That's an unnecessary spread of panic. Instead of giving such statements, let's create a fund to enable the geneticists and other scientists to regularly work on the sequencing of virus so we can say if there is a relation between the medical condition and changes in lines that BiH citizens are infected with,” the expert stressed.
According to him, it is ungrounded to speak about new strains because something like this has to be confirmed by a competent body such as the World Health Organisation.
“If a sufficient number of mutations which keep repeating is found, then they will confirm a new strain. We can only speak about the new lines. Those are the mutations found in the virus genome, which are different from the original Wuhan strain. We can speak about the strains once they get confirmed,” he said, adding that what is today called the British or Brazilian strain will probably not be called like that in future unless officially confirmed.