'Indian' Covid-19 variant detected in Latvia

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Last week, one example of the highly contagious 'Indian' variant of Covid-19 (B.1.617) virus was detected in Latvia, according to an information report provided to the government.

Currently the so-called 'British' Covid-19 strain is dominant, accounting for 93% of cases last week, but one case of the strain typical to India has been identified, reported LSM's Latvian language service May 27.     

The Indian variant is believed to be more contagious and there are concerns that this variant of the virus may be more of a threat even to persons with previously-acquired immunity. However, it is a relatively new strain and due to a lack of research and data a full assessment of its potential impact on public health remains uncertain. 

Currently, only one instance of the Indian variant has been detected in Latvia, while in some other European countries it is starting to spread more widely: in Luxembourg its share is 0.6%, in Spain - 0.3%, in Ireland - 1.5%, in France - 1% and in Belgium - 0.8%. It is also the cause of local lockdowns in the United Kingdom.

The Indian government has expressed displeasure at the use of the term 'Indian variant', but it has become normal for various strains of Covid-19 to be named after the places in which they first appeared, with British, Brazilian and South African variants also being deemed "Variants of Concern" (VoCs) by the World Health Organization.

"Recent studies provide evidence of some loss of neutralization capacity of COVID-19 vaccines against B.1.617.1. ... early studies suggest some loss of neutralization capacity against B.1.617; however, it is unclear whether this loss translates into decreased vaccine efficacy/effectiveness. Vaccine efficacy and real-world effectiveness evidence for B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 or B.1.617.3 is limited," according to the WHO's most recent overview.


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