Shitty virus: New SARS-CoV-2 strain named ‘Eek’ found in Jakarta

Illustration of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Illustration of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Indonesia’s Health Ministry said Jakarta has a fresh case involving a new strain of the coronavirus, which has a name that resembles an Indonesian word for poo.

The ministry said the mutation, officially named E484K, is an offshoot of the B117 strain first discovered in the UK in late 2020. E484K was reportedly first discovered in South Africa, and health authorities only recently detected the first Indonesian case involving the strain.

The strain has been colloquially named “Eek” in Indonesia by virtue of it consisting of two of the three letters that make up the Indonesian word for excrement.

The Health Ministry said the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology discovered a patient with the Eek mutation in late March following genome sequencing of their sample taken in February. The patient, who lives in West Jakarta, does not have history of recent international travel.

“This case is a local mutation,” the Health Ministry’s director for direct infectious diseases, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said yesterday.

The patient did not show any severe symptoms during infection and has recovered from the disease. The strain was not found among the patient’s close contacts.

While there is currently no great concern for a widespread circulation of Eek in Indonesia, health experts from abroad have warned that the mutation may be associated with less vaccine efficacy.

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