British coronavirus variant spreads in Romania

The number of people infected with the British variant of the coronavirus is constantly increasing in Romania, the transindex.ro news portal wrote. As of February 8, a total of 56 infections were reported to have been caused by the rapidly spreading mutation of the virus that had emerged last year in the United Kingdom. This is cause for concern, as European experts warned countries long ago that the mutation detected in the UK might become the dominant form to cause COVID-19 infections.

It has been noted that the spreading rate of the British variant is 70 percent higher compared to that of the originally known strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. According to recent reports, the UK mutation is infecting more and more people across Europe. In Slovakia, authorities reported on Friday that 71 percent of the new infections registered in recent days have been caused by the British variant, and this rate is most likely similar in Romania, transindex.ro wrote.

The most recent coronavirus cases with the new mutation have been detected in Bucharest; more specifically, two adults and one infant were diagnosed with COVID-19 caused by the British variant.

As the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan pointed out in a January interview, the coronavirus has gone through a lot of changes during this past year. Nevertheless, there are two particular variants of the virus that seem to be more transmissible, meaning more infectious: One of these was identified in the UK and the other in South Africa. In general, coronaviruses tend to undergo mutations, the doctor said; “however, if we give it a chance to spread and to multiply, the more chances it’s going to have to keep changing itself, as that’s its natural property,” she added.

Tests are being continuously carried out on the existing vaccines’ efficacy against the new virus strains; so far, it seems probable that the UK variant will not decisively hinder vaccine-induced immunity. However, the South African variant appears to be better able to evade neutralizing antibody responses, decreasing vaccine efficacy. Specialists thus are mostly focused on studying the spike in protein mutations of the coronavirus to be able to understand the effects of existing variants as well as those that may eventually emerge.

Title image: Mutations seem to be the next big challenge in fighting the coronavirus pandemic


Author: Éva Zay