Virologist Paulo Paixão - SIC television news

Portugal “increasingly concerned” by signs of Californian variant

Epidemiologists are “increasingly concerned” by data on the growth of “a variant in Portugal with similarities to that which has become known as the Californian variant”. 

The mutation – identified as L452R – is understood to render vaccines less effective, and reduce the time of immunity (post-cure) of Covid-19 infection. 

Between January 10-19, the mutation was responsible for 6.8% of national infections. 

Explain reports, this is more than infections caused by the South African and Brazilian variants, though less than those triggered by the British variant (16%).

The information emerged during yesterday’s meeting of experts at Infarmed (click here).

Epidemiologist João Paulo Gomes of INSA (the national health institute Dr Ricardo Jorge) admitted at the time: “we weren’t expecting this”.

Back in November, only “two or three cases associated with the mutation” had been found among the hundreds of thousands of tests performed, he said. 

The variant has since “spread over 32 boroughs” – most of them in the deeply-affected areas of Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo.

Paulo Paixão, president of the Portuguese Society of Virology, said that “in a way, this mutation is more worrying than the others that have already been detected in Portugal”.

‘Next steps’ involve further data gathering, particularly with regard to receiving reports from the United States on how California’s vaccination programme progresses.

This way it will eventually become clear whether or not the vaccines are indeed rendered less effective.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com