What happened explains prof. Pierluigi Lopalco, head of the epidemiological task force of Puglia: «Starting from the positive swabs, we proceeded to examine the material on cultured cells. In this way it was possible to isolate two distinct viral strains, coming from a patient from the province of Foggia and one from the province of Lecce, whose entire genome was sequenced. These studies allow to reach two important goals: the first is precisely the complete sequence of genomes, which allows to study the evolution of the coronavirus during the pandemic and to trace the origin of the viruses introduced in the Region. The second milestone – concluded Lopalco – is the availability of viral isolates that can be used to search for new therapies or diagnostic methods ».
In Foggia, the organizational structure set up by the Region to combat Covid-19 is based on examining the swabs in the Via Manfredonia site and sequencing in the Laboratory of Genetics and Molecular Epidemiology of the provincial Diagnostic section of Putignano, directed precisely by Parisi. “There is a need to understand how the virus moves – says Fasanella – it is only a beginning of what we will do later: we will begin to sequence all the most representative cases of positivity by examining different strains. For example, based on the areas of our competence assigned to us by the Region, we have developed our attention on a large outbreak in Ostuni and on an RSA (sanitary residence for the elderly: editor’s note) in Brindisi. We remember, in fact, that the Zooprophylactic examines the swabs carried out on the territories, therefore not the hospitals, of the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce, Taranto until recently and Potenza ».
So how did the sequencing of the positivity of a patient in the province of Foggia come about? “It happened in the early stages of the onset of the virus, around March 20 – explains Fasanella – when the Vito Fazzi hospital in Lecce was still not in a position to carry out an examination of the swabs. The swab of this patient, who resides in a municipality in the province of Lecce, ended up in Foggia together with all the others performed that day on other patients ». Now the sequencing will allow you to know more about the behavior of the virus, will allow you to deepen the studies on the international scientific platform based on the insights already performed in the world by other scientists.
The studies conducted in the Putignano laboratory will provide the scientific community with new elements of evaluation of Convid 19: «Once the strain has been isolated, we can compare it with others – comments Fasanella – and understand how it evolved, where it comes from, what path it has taken. Let’s feed the Italy system which so far has still quite limited sequences, just 70-80. I hope that our contribution will increase, I can predict that now we will develop sequencing on strains also coming from Basilicata ».