- South Africa has isolated its first lab culture of the virus which causes Covid-19
- University of Western Cape and Stellenbosch University have, through a collaborative effort, harvested the culture
- This development will help with further research about this coronavirus strain
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The University of Western Cape(UWC) and Stellenbosch University(SU) have become the first in the country to isolate SARS-CoV-2. Dr Tasnim Suliman is the only known South African who has ever grown a coronavirus in a safety lab.
According to the UWC doctor, having a pure culture of the virus opens doors for research in South Africa.
“Currently, much of the data that exists on this novel virus is based on detecting the genetic material, which is still possible after the virus is ‘dead’, and does not confirm whether the virus is viable and able to cause infection. Now we can experiment on the live virus and observe how it actually behaves in the lab.”
Suliman went on to say that they did not create or modify the virus in any way.
“All we have done is provided the virus with the right conditions to grow, in a space where we are able to harvest a large amount of virus to perform research. And strict safety protocols were followed.”
The isolated virus can be used in experiments and trials. South Africa is currently the leading African country in science and technology. This new development with isolating the virus serves as a huge advantage.
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There are seven known human coronaviruses, three severe disease. Dr Suliman has worked with all three.
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