Covid-19: United Kingdom variant responsible for the “vast majority” of cases in Portugal

Covid-19: United Kingdom variant responsible for the “vast majority” of cases in Portugal
Covid-19: United Kingdom variant responsible for the “vast majority” of cases in Portugal

The UK-associated SARS-CoV-2 variant continues in a “Upward frequency path” in Portugal and is responsible for the “great majority of cases”, having been detected in 82.9% of the samples collected in March, INSA announced this Monday.

The “Status report on the genetic diversity of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Portugal”, prepared by the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), also points out “a considerable increase” in the variant linked to South Africa, despite circulation is still “infrequent in the community”.

Regarding the variant originally identified in the United Kingdom, INSA says that it was “detected by sequencing with a relative frequency of 82.9% in the national sample in March, continuing on an upward frequency trajectory, being the variant responsible for the vast majority of cases of covid-19 today ”.

The new coronavirus variant associated with South Africa has been detected in 49 cases of covid-19 to date, 27 of which were detected in the national sample in March, “which represents a relative frequency of 2.5% and shows an increase considerable in relation to the February sample (0.1%) ”.

The phylogeographic analysis indicates that this variant was introduced several times independently in Portugal. Nevertheless, among the 49 sequences, some well-defined ‘clusters’ are identified (for example, transmission chains limited to households or institutions), suggesting that circulation is still infrequent in the community.“, Reports INSA.

So far, 22 cases of variant P.1 (associated with Brazil, Manaus) have also been observed, with only four cases of this variant being detected in the March sample, maintaining the same relative frequency (0.4%) observed in February, which suggests that the circulation of this variant “is very limited in Portugal”.

“The P.2 variant, also initially detected in Brazil, revealed a decrease in its relative frequency in the March sample, having been detected only one case among the 1,094 sequences analyzed”, says the report.

According to INSA, “the national sampling of March 2021 by sequencing covered 10.4% of the positive samples reported during the period under analysis in Portugal, so the data presented strongly reflects the weight of the variants in circulation in the current course of the epidemic in the country ”.

INSA says that in this latest update of the site new features have been introduced, including a new interactive panel that allows analyzing the evolution of the proportion of the different variables (eg, clade, lineage, mutation, etc.) over time.

To date, INSA, through the Bioinformatics Nucleus of its Department of Infectious Diseases, has analyzed 5,758 sequences of the genome of the new coronavirus, obtained from samples collected in 89 laboratories, hospitals and institutions, representing 252 municipalities in Portugal.

Since the March 3 report, more than 1,345 sequences have been analyzed, including 1,094 sequences obtained within the scope of monthly surveillance with national sampling that INSA is coordinating, coming from laboratories distributed throughout the country, covering a total of 166 municipalities, and 89 sequences obtained from samples suspected of the presence of variants associated with South Africa and Brazil or from other specific studies.

The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,853,908 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 131.2 million cases of infection, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.

In Portugal, 16,885 people died from 823,494 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

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