No. 43




Hunting Viruses through Genetic Research

09 June 2021


RiTo No. 43, 2021

  • Radko Avi

    Radko Avi

    University of Tartu, Associate Professor in Medical Virology

  • Kristi Huik

    Kristi Huik

    University of Tartu, Associate Professor in Medical Microbiology and Virology

  • Taavi Päll

    Taavi Päll

    University of Tartu, Research Fellow in Medical Virology

  • Aare Abroi

    Aare Abroi

    University of Tartu, Specialist in Bioinformatics

The COVID-19 epidemic has set an unprecedented challenge to health care systems as well as societies as a whole around the world. However, the molecular-epidemiological progress has also reached a point where the whole genome sequencing of the virus permits us to conduct analyses that had remained out of our reach during earlier epidemics.

The KoroGeno-Est projects have so far sequenced more than 2,500 Estonian SARS-CoV-2 whole genomes. This has formed the foundation for analysing the virus variants in centres of infection as well as among various risk groups. The data shows that in Estonia, just like in the rest of Europe, the so-called English strain of SARS-CoV-2 had largely taken over from the earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants by mid-March of 2021. No wider intrusions or national level spreading of other dangerous strains or mutations have been found so far (as of the beginning of May 2021).

The KoroGeno-Est projects will keep their main focus on observing SARS-CoV-2 strains that are important in the context of vaccines and disease progression. The observed aspects include national level spreading, infections that have been imported into Estonia, as well as the in­fected individuals who have already been vaccinated. The results of the analysis are shared with the Health Board and other authorities and international organisation, in order to make the decisions necessary for managing the COVID-19 epidemic.