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We also had a new variant from Colombia in Slovakia: WHO is worried! Information is still missing – Topky

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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it is monitoring a new variant of the coronavirus, which was first recorded in January in Colombia. There are fears that it could be resistant to vaccines, the AFP agency reported. It already appeared in Slovakia in May, but it did not prevail significantly.

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They also identified a new variant from Colombia in Slovakia

The new variant was noticed by the Public Health Office in May of this year, when it was confirmed for the first time in our territory. “We first confirmed variant B.1.621 in Slovakia by sequencing in May 2021. Since then, we have confirmed it in our laboratory only in units of cases – it has not been significantly enforced.” Daša Račková, a spokeswoman for the ÚVZ SR, told Topky. It was present in three samples.

Source: Getty Images

Currently, the more contagious delta variants have a clear dominance in Slovakia. “In the laboratory, we have confirmed a small number of cases of the alpha variant,” said the spokeswoman. “The variant they identified in Colombia was no longer confirmed in the August sequenced samples,” stated Račková.

Information is still missing

The World Health Organization is concerned about the new variant. She included it among the VOI (variant of Interest, ed. Note), ie a potentially serious variant, which is the subject of further scientific research. “Variant B.1.621, named variant mi, was listed by the WHO as a VOI (Variant of Interest) on 30 August 2021,” informs ÚVZ SR.

A new variant from Colombia

Source: Getty Images

“At this point in time and on the basis of current scientific knowledge, it is not yet clear and definitive whether the mutations typical of this variant actually pose an increased epidemiological risk. ” added Račková.

Not every mutation affects the properties of the virus

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time. Most changes (mutations) have almost no effect on the properties of the virus. However, some changes can affect, for example, how easily the virus spreads, how serious the disease is, and so on. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions and researchers, continuously monitors and evaluates the development of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the office clarified.

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“The occurrence of individual variants is monitored and evaluated by sequencing, this also happens in the Slovak Republic through the laboratories of the Public Health Office of the Slovak Republic, the Science Park of Comenius University in Bratislava and the Biomedical Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences,” informed the Office.

Variant Mí

The variant, technically referred to as B.1.621, is called “mi” by the UN Health Agency in its classification in the Greek alphabet. The WHO currently considers it a so-called variant of interest that needs to be further monitored. It has several mutations that indicate the risk of vaccine resistance. According to the WHO, further studies are therefore needed to contribute to a better understanding of it.

The subject of monitoring is currently five variants, including the mi variant, which has already been detected in other countries of South America, in addition to Colombia, but also in several European countries, including Slovakia. On a global scale, the prevalence of the mi variant is still low: it currently represents 0.1 percent of the sequenced samples. In Colombia, however, the figure is significantly higher, up to 39 percent, according to AFP.

It all started with the alpha variant

The first variant of SARS-CoV-2, which poses an increased risk to global public health, was identified at the end of 2020. It was an alpha variant, first reported in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Based on this event, experts created two main categories of monitored virus variants – “Variant of Concern” and “Variant of Interest”.

A new variant from Colombia

Source: Getty Images

Variant of Concern (VOC)

It is epidemiologically serious, its occurrence should also be perceived by the public. It is demonstrably associated with at least one of the following changes that are of global importance for public health:

– increased transmissibility or detrimental changes in the epidemiology of COVID-19,
– an increase in virulence or a change in the clinical manifestation of the disease,
– reducing the effectiveness of measures or available diagnostics, vaccines or medicines.

A new variant from Colombia

Source: Getty Images

Variant of Interest (VOI)

It is a potentially serious variant that is the subject of further scientific research. Experts pay attention to it because they observe changes in the genome of a given variant that can affect the epidemiologically important properties of the virus. The variant falls into the VOI category at the initiative of virologists in the WHO working group, or if the variant spreads through community transmission, appears in clusters, or is detected by several countries.

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