Appearance of a new variant in India: should we be worried?

After Brazil, India is the country which records the most new deaths (1,501 deaths, against 2,929 in Brazil and 675 in the United States), according to the latest reports of the coronavirus pandemic in the world. The country has just recorded a record daily increase of 261,500 new cases in the past 24 hours.

A suspect in this resumption of the epidemic: the development in the population of a “double mutant” variant. According to the information we have, it is more contagious and more resistant to vaccines. But nothing is yet scientifically proven.

►►► To read also: In India, a “double mutant” variant suspected of reviving the epidemic of covid-19 at an alarming rate

Should we be worried?

As to whether to worry about it, not really. “New variants are everywhere!”, says Sophie Lucas, immunologist at the De Duve Institute, multidisciplinary biomedical research institute housing several laboratories of the Faculty of Medicine of UCLouvain.

The appearance of these variants, she recalls, is a logical development in an epidemic: “All viruses make mistakes by replicating themselves. These are called mutations. Some more than others. There are champions in all categories, like the influenza virus or the HIV virus. And then , there are others like the Sarv-COV 2 virus which is not a particular champion, but which makes mistakes like all the other viruses. And so, these errors accumulate, they are mutations. Usually , they have no consequences. But from time to time, it gives the virus the ability to infect more easily or be more contagious, and in this case, we see them gradually taking over the other families of viruses. present “.

Limit the circulation of the virus to limit mutations

Hence the importance, for her, of limiting the circulation of the virus: “As soon as a virus circulates at a high level (as is the case in India and Brazil in particular, editor’s note), we will inevitably see variants appear and this has already happened a large number of times so far. The first virus, that of Wuhan, is not already the variant that gave the first wave of the pandemic, it was already another variant at that time. And then, we saw the emergence of new variants in England. , in particular, before they deploy their vaccination campaign and they are the first to have signaled the emergence of this new British variant which, today, has become completely dominant among us as well “.

By closing the borders?

As to whether to close borders or airspace with countries where the situation is problematic as France has just done for Brazil, for example, she doubts: “Viruses have no borders. Honestly, I don’t know what the best decision is, I don’t know if closing your airspace for a while will prevent the spread of these variants. saw with the British variant that it had not been effective. The only solution was the race for vaccination. But vaccines, not only for us! Vaccines everywhere, for everyone. Like the WHO says: ‘No one is protected until everyone is protected’ “.

Variants closely watched in Belgium

For the moment in Belgium, no case has been identified. As for the Brazilian and South African variants, they “stagnate”, specifies Yves Van Laethem, interfederal spokesperson for the fight against the coronavirus: “Depending on the week, the Brazilian variant represents between 3 and 5%, roughly. Roughly at the same level as the South African variant. We get the impression that the English variant is so efficient, if we can say, that it sweeps for the moment these two other variants “.

Still, all these variants are closely monitored. Measures are under study

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