Korean scientists have successfully isolated and identified the novel coronavirus found in patients in Korea, finding that the strain was up to 99.9 percent identical to the viruses isolated from Wuhan, China.
The Koreas Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said it successfully isolated the strain from a local patient Wednesday, dubbing it the 'BetaCoV/Korea/KCDC03/2020.'
The KCDC said its scientists inoculated the patient's respiratory specimens (sputum) into cells and confirmed the growth of the novel coronavirus. Scientists then analyzed the viral gene sequences to confirm the strain.
According to published genetic information, the isolated virus was 99.5 to 99.9 percent identical in sequence with the viruses isolated from Wuhan, China, France, Singapore, and Germany, and no significant genetic variation was found.
The nucleotide sequence information of the novel coronavirus strain isolated in Korea will be registered in the GISAID of the World Health Organization (WHO) and used by researchers at home and abroad, the KCDC said.
GISAID is the WHO's global influenza surveillance network, which currently has a list of new coronavirus gene sequences from around the world.
"The isolated virus is an indispensable resource for the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, and will be distributed to relevant ministries and relevant competent institutions for use in research and development," KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said.