JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia continues to deal with more strains of Covid-19, after a case testing positive for the E484K mutation was found in the country earlier this year.
The authorities found the case, a month before the more high-profile B.1.1.7 strain was traced last March to Indonesian migrant workers returning from Saudi Arabia.
“Researchers from the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology traced the E484K strain last February to an individual in Jakarta,” said Indonesian Ministry of Health spokesperson Siti Nadia Tarmizi on Monday, April 4.
"The person has since been confirmed to recover [from Covid-19]. We have yet to determine if the individual contracted [the E484K Covid-19 strain] during an overseas trip or not.”
Nadia added that E484K or ‘Eek’ is “one of an estimated 10 to 17 mutations of the B.1.1.7 strain of Covid-19. While these strains might influence the efficacy of the vaccine, studies in South Africa indicated that all [coronavirus] vaccines can still effectively treat them.”
Covid-19 Task Force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito reiterated Nadia. He noted that the mutation originated in a protein spike from the B.1.1.7 strain found in Brazil and South Africa.
“Recent research has shown that E484K has a high transmission rate. The government will intensify its whole genome sequencing efforts to determine which Covid-19 strains are found in Indonesia,” Wiku added.
“This includes maintaining the screening process for foreign nationals and Indonesian citizens alike who are entering Indonesia.”
He and Nadia also called on the public to maintain compliance with health protocols and limit their movement to reduce the transmission of the E484K and other Covid-19 strains.
The report noted that it was transmitted to 12 of 36 patients over the past two months, none of whom has gone overseas or got in contact with known cases of the variant.
This development raised concerns that the virus is more transmissible and more resistant to current Covid-19 vaccines, as shown in the research of the strain by British universities.
Cambridge University researcher Ravindra Gupta noted that those contracting E484K would “need to raise their antibody serums prevent cell infection, making the strain far deadlier than previous Coronavirus mutations,” he asserted.
“The strain can strengthen the virus and enable it bypass the body’s immune system,” said Warwick University virologist and oncology professor Lawrence Young in the United Kingdom.
“The E484K mutation can weaken the body’s immune system. This is potentially worse if an individual who [previously contracted Covid-19] contracted the virus again.”
The BMJ medical journal reported Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine is only 60 percent effective against the Eek virus. The findings on E484K prompted the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to redesign its Covid-19 vaccine.
(Penulis : Haryanti Puspa Sari, Dian Erika Nugraheny, Sekar Langit Nariswari
Editor : Icha Rastika, Kristian Erdianto, Glori K. Wadrianto)