The Delta variant set off the alarms of the authorities around the world for its high contagion capacity and in few months it became the dominant variant in the world, but in most of the Latin American countries has remained until now as a minority phenomenon.
The competition between variants, diversified vaccination or biological and cultural factors are some of the hypotheses that experts consider to explain this phenomenon, which still has the region between caution and calm.
With nearly 44 million cases and 1.46 million total deaths, Latin America, one of the regions most affected by the COVID-19 In health and economic terms, it has been months with isolated outbreaks of this variant originating in India and even countries such as Chile, Uruguay O Colombia they enjoy a pandemic truce.
With the exception of Mexico, where the Delta does predominate over the rest, the situation is far from that experienced in Europe O Asia, where in a matter of weeks it spread like wildfire, leaving millions of infections in its wake.
Climate and culture
Since the first case of Delta was notified in Chile last June, the country has registered a sustained decrease in infections And now he is enjoying one of his best pandemic moments, with more freedom than ever since the arrival of the virus.
For the director of the Institute of Public Health of Chile, Heriberto Garcia, one of the hypotheses that would explain that the Delta has not penetrated so much has to do with the climate, since in Europe it spread rapidly in summer, while in the southern hemisphere it was winter.
“Another reason would be cultural factors. In South America we have an idiosyncrasy and a way of relating to us that is different from other parts of the world and that might not accommodate the Delta, “the expert told Efe.
Competition between variants
Other reasons why it has grown at a slower rate is the “competition” between the different variants of the region, according to the director of the National Center for Public Health of the National Institute of Health of Peru, Fernando Donaires.
In Peru, which has more than 2 million infections, the Delta has caused 244 cases and has a frequency of 20%, while the Lambda – of Andean origin and found in April – accounted for 80% of the infections.
In Chile, Gamma is the majority, with 41% frequency, compared to Delta’s 18%.
“It is one of the possibilities that could be delaying the transmissibility of this variant, but it is feasible that in the course of time it may somehow increase”, Affirmed to Efe Donaires.
Along the same lines, the infectologist Unai Tupinambás, from Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), added that the limited spread of the Delta is an “intriguing” issue that could be related to its “cross-reaction” with other variants.
This could partially explain why the Delta “failed to reach Brazil with great force and even reduced its prevalence” from 61% in early August to 35% two weeks later, he alerted Efe.
“The expectation was that cases would increase, but now we are seeing a reduction,” he added. Tupinambás on the South American giant, which has 21 million infected, but where the averages have been falling for weeks.
The importance of vaccination
Although it has done so unevenly and with a late start in some countries, vaccination advances in Latin America.
Chile and Uruguay They are among the fastest vaccinates in the world, with more than 70% of their population on the full schedule; Ecuador exceeds 50%, and Colombia, Brazil or Argentina are above 30%, according to the University of Oxford.
For the doctor Flavio salazar, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Chile, immunization has been “essential” to prevent outbreaks, as well as the use of vaccines from different laboratories.
When at the beginning of the year the doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca did not arrive, some countries opted to diversify vaccination with the acquisition of Sputnik V (not authorized by the WHO) and Sinovac (approved last June), which served to accelerate the process .
In addition, the Chinese serum, which is of inoculated and complete virus, is “less deep, but broader” than others such as Pfizer’s, of messenger RNA and that “do not contain enough varieties to detect some variants,” he explained to Efe. Salazar.
This would explain why Delta caused outbreaks in Israel, where only the American-German vaccine was administered, despite having a high percentage of the immunized population, he specified.
The advancement of the Mu variant
While the Delta seems to stagnate, a new variant is starting to gain ground in some countries: the Mu, recently considered “of interest” by the WHO.
During the third peak of the pandemic in Colombia, between April and August, the National Institute of Health (INS) blamed this variant, which in Chile has a frequency of 29%, and has already surpassed the Delta. (18%).
For him Carlos Trillos placeholder image, coordinator of Epidemiology of the Rosario UniversityIn Bogotá, this does not mean that one should lose sight of the Delta variant, whose first case was identified in the country last July.
“From that moment we have seen how in other regions reports of a Delta variant detected in Bogotá, Antioquia or Huila have begun to appear. It will continue to grow, as we know Delta is a much more contagious variant, “he told Efe.
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