The British variant of SARS-CoV-2, present in 29 European Union countries, is responsible for more than half of the total infections. The strain detected in Brazil, although not very prevalent in Europe, can have a viral load up to ten times higher than the original virus and is able to evade the immune system.
The British variant of SARS-CoV-2 was, until a week ago, present in 29 countries of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), in a total of 10,700 cases, being now responsible for more than half of the total infections.
Information is forwarded to the agency Lusa by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which indicates that, as of February 22, “about 10,700 cases have been identified in 29 EU / EEA countries” of the mutation initially detected in the United Kingdom in November past.
“The variation is increasing across the region [na Europa] and it is estimated that it is now responsible for more than 50% of all cases in most Member States ”, adds the European agency in written response sent to Lusa.
Referring to scientific evidence, ECDC points out that this variation (which is the most prevalent at European level) it is also “more transmissible” than the original virus, which may have “implications for the effectiveness of the measures”.
“ It is likely to lead to a greater severity of the disease and therefore, hospitalization rates can increase, ”adds this European center, which provides support to member states in health crises such as the current pandemic.
With regard to variant detected in South Africa, also as of February 22, “650 cases had been identified in 15 EU / EEA countries”, according to ECDC.
This European center notes that there has been “community transmission in some outbreaks reported by some Member States” and that this SARS-CoV-2 mutation recorded in South Africa “is likely to have a significant impact on the vaccine’s effectiveness for at least least some of the vaccines currently approved ”.
As for the Brazilian variant, detected in travelers from Brazil, until February 22, “about 50 cases had been identified in eight EU / EEA countries”.
In a report released in mid-February, ECDC had already warned that, despite the reduction in the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in recent weeks, the epidemiological situation “is still a matter of great concern” in Europe, so it called for interventions of “immediate” public health.
At the time, experts from the European public health agency indicated that the new and more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2 detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil “raise concerns”.
In the document, the ECDC noted the “substantial increase in the number and proportion of cases” of the UK’s mutation in the EU / EEA, as well as that these countries have “increasingly reported” cases of the South African strain.
Me and Brazilian variant “It is being notified at lower levels, possibly because it is mainly linked to travel exchanges with Brazil”, said the organization at the time, in an allusion to the interruption of travel decreed by some European countries.
Recently, the Portuguese Government decided to extend restrictive air traffic measures until March 16, keeping all commercial and private flights with origin or destination in Brazil and the United Kingdom suspended.
More transmissible strain and evades immune system
This strain, detected in Brazil, P.1, may, however, have a viral load up to ten times higher and is able to evade the immune system of those who already had antibodies, reveal two preliminary studies.
“It probably does all three things at the same time: it is more transmissible, it invades the immune system more and probably it must be more pathogenic,” he told the Spanish agency this Tuesday. EFE Ester Sabino, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP) and coordinator of the USP group that participated in the research carried out by the Brazil-United Kingdom Center for Abrovirus Discovery and Diagnosis.
The preliminary study, carried out by Brazilian and English researchers and released last Friday, suggests that the new variant detected in the state of Amazonas is between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than those that precede it and “probably” this is one of the factors responsible for the second wave of the new coronavirus pandemic in Brazil.
Scientists have also concluded that the new strain is capable of evade or system immune and cause a new infection in part of the individuals already infected with SARS-CoV-2, specifically between 25 and 61%.
“You can’t explain so many cases except for the loss of immunity ”Said Ester Sabino, who coordinated the study with researcher Nuno Faria, from the University of Oxford.
The preliminary study, based on a mathematical model carried out by Imperial College London, is based on the analysis of the genomes of 184 samples of nasopharyngeal secretions from patients diagnosed with covid-19 in laboratories in Manaus between November 2020 and January 2021.
The capital of the State of Amazonas, Manaus, was one of the focuses of the pandemic in Brazil, both in the first and in the second wave of the pandemic, and has been experiencing a health collapse since the end of last year due to the explosion of cases and hospitalizations for Covid-19.
The investigation, which was supported by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), has not yet been reviewed by other scientists or published in scientific journals, but is available online.
Likewise, another study also released last Friday by researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the Amazon region indicates that the viral load in the body of individuals infected with P.1 can be up to ten times larger.
Brazil, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in the world, has accumulated 10,587,001 infections since the first case of the disease was registered, on February 26 last year, and 255,720 deaths.