Hong Kong’s first community infection of a mutant Covid-19 strain involved the South African variant, officials revealed on Tuesday, with transmission likely to have taken place at a quarantine hotel via door hooks used by staff to deliver meal boxes to guests.
Experts found no problems with the hotel’s ventilation and drainage systems, the focus turned to S-shaped door hooks used by employees to hang meal boxes for self-isolating guests, who would later put them back there. ‘The virus could have been exchanged through contact with the hooks, which were “hard to clean”.’
Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun said that there have been three cases of the recent variant [B.1.617] first identified in India. Dr De Gascun said at least two of them are associated with travel. He said NPHET does not have any data to determine whether the variant is more transmissible or not, but said at this stage people need to remain vigilant and try to contain it locally. Separately, 24 cases of the P.1 variant, which was first found in Brazil, have so far been confirmed in Ireland, while 55 cases of B.1.351 South African variant have also been confirmed.
People in the UK have been infected with Covid-19 more than once thanks to catching different variants of the coronavirus. Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said there had been cases where people had become reinfected by different strains of the coronavirus. “We have seen some people who have had their first dose of vaccine who have had the South African variant and the variant that arose in Kent,” she told BBC’s the Andrew Marr show. “You can see that they’re not as good against the South African variant as they are against our own (variant) B117 at preventing infection and transmission.”
People living and working in Barnet, north London, are being urged to get a Covid-19 test after a case of the South African variant was found. Those in the N3 postcode area are being asked to get a test either at home or go to a mobile testing unit. Barnet Council said teams of officials will go door-to-door in areas in area to deliver PCR test kits, and a mobile testing unit will be set up in the car park of Finchley Central Station.
A statement on the council’s website said: “The South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in Barnet. “From Thursday 15 April we will start testing people for this variant in specific postcode areas affected in N3 or those who shop on the local high street.”
“In contrast, entry of the B.1.351 and P.1 variant was partially (Casirivimab) or fully (Bamlanivimab) resistant to antibodies used for COVID-19 treatment. Moreover, entry of these variants was less efficiently inhibited by plasma from convalescent COVID-19 patients and sera from BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals. These results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may escape neutralizing antibody responses, which has important implications for efforts to contain the pandemic.”
An Israeli study released today in the country has shown that the South African variant of the coronavirus is more resistant than the British variant against the vaccine Pfizer, although it did not specify the degree of resistance.
The research was based on a sample of about 800 people and found that the percentage of cases of the South African strain compared to the British was significantly higher among people who had received both doses of the vaccine compared to those who had only been inoculated with one.
The study, carried out by researchers from the main Israeli health company, insurance Clalit , together with Tel Aviv University , identified that among infected patients 14 days after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, less than 0.5% had contracted the South African strain of coronavirus. This figure was almost identical when analyzing a control group, made up of the same number of patients, of similar ages and who had not received the vaccine .
What was striking was that among the people who had been infected with coronavirus within two weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine, the percentage of patients carrying the South African strain was 5.4%, while in the control group of unvaccinated people the figure was 0.7%.
Here, we performed a case-control study that examined whether BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BionTech) vaccinees with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection were more likely to become infected with B.1.1.7 or B.1.351 compared with unvaccinated individuals.
Vaccinees infected at least a week after the second dose were disproportionally infected with B.1.351 (odds ratio of 8:1). Those infected between two weeks after the first dose and one week after the second dose, were disproportionally infected by B.1.1.7 [UK variant] (odds ratio of 26:10), suggesting reduced vaccine effectiveness against both VOCs under different dosage/timing conditions. Nevertheless, the B.1.351 [SA variant] incidence in Israel to-date remains low and vaccine effectiveness remains high against B.1.1.7, among those fully vaccinated. These results overall suggest that vaccine breakthrough infection is more frequent with both VOCs, yet a combination of mass-vaccination with two doses coupled with non-pharmaceutical interventions control and contain their spread.
A recent study by the ICDDRB revealed that the South African variant B.1.351 of the novel coronavirus is dominant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Between March 18 and 24, the scientists at ICDDRB analysed genomic sequence of around 57 samples of Covid-19 positive patients. Of those, 46 or more than 80% were found as same as the South African variant of novel coronavirus.
In the previous week (between March 12 and 17), the ICDDRB team analysed genomic sequence of 99 novel coronavirus samples and found South African variant in 64 or more than 64% samples.
In the first week of March (between March 5 and 11), the team analysed genomic sequence of around 30 samples. In that case, there was no existence of South African variant. The samples were collected from 13 districts.
The director of Butantan Institute, Dimas Covas, confirmed that a variant of the coronavirus similar to that of South Africa was detected in Sorocaba, in the interior of the state. Despite the similarity, the possibility of being a new variant is not ruled out.
The patient where the possible variant was identified is a 34-year-old woman, who presented mild symptoms of the disease, with a favourable clinical course. There is no history of travel by the patient or her contact with travellers to the African country. For this reason, the chances of already being a natural evolution of the Brazilian P1 strain are great.
194 new deaths and nearly 43,000 new cases reported today, Contamination and the number of patients in intensive care remain at high levels, confirming the arrival of a third epidemic wave announced by Olivier Véran.
Researchers plead for a month of strict containment. The prospect of a strict and generalized reconfinement resurfaces due to the hospital tension. Researchers and doctors plead for long-term measures.
Mircea Sofonea, lecturer in epidemiology at the University of Montpellier (Hérault), is on the same line. “According to my models, it would be necessary to confine strictly, as in March 2020, at least for six weeks, judges this specialist. This deadline would make it possible to find an incidence rate below 5,000 new cases per actual day, the threshold set by Emmanuel Macron in November to accept deconfinement. We would also arrive at less than 2000 patients in intensive care and a less active circulation of the virus. It all depends on the health objectives set, in particular at the level of hospital occupation. Currently, Covid-19 patients are being cared for at the expense of deprogrammed patients. We will then have to catch up. ”
45,641 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in France in the past 24 hours, according to figures released on Thursday. In total, 4,424,087 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in France.
The total number of people hospitalized in France with a positive Covid-19 diagnosis stands at 27,036, with 1,860 new admissions in 24 hours. 228 people have died in the past 24 hours in hospital. “The epidemic dynamic is strong” , underlined the Minister of Health Olivier Véran during a press conference Thursday.
The virus variant of South Africa has been confirmed as the cause of the coronavirus infections among students in Turku, Finland. However, the transformation observed at Turku University Central Hospital (Tyks) is not identical to the original South African variant, but seems to have transformed further, says the Hospital District of Southwest Finland.
The matter was clarified in laboratory tests performed in Tyks.
“We found that it is probably a modified virus, and the so-called gene sequencing ensured that the virus has several other changes in addition to those characteristic of the South African variant. So far, we don’t know where the variant came from. These will become clear later when the entire genome of the virus is known” says chief physician of molecular microbiology and virology, Tytti Vuorinen, in a press release.
According to Vuorinen, this is possibly a new type of coronavirus variant. This will be confirmed later in so-called whole genome sequencing.
So far, there is no information on whether a similar modified variant has been found in other countries.
So far, it has not been shown that the modified South African coronavirus variant is more severe than usual. The symptoms of those infected have been fairly mild and the patients have not needed hospital treatment, the release says.
According to the hospital district, the finding does not justify changing the current recommendations.
More than 90 infections have been detected in the Turku cluster.