The alarming news is coming from different countries: new variants of the coronavirus are beginning to spread rapidly, causing infections in ways never seen before. Just a passing pass on the street by an infected person is enough. As a result, lockdowns are extended, and vaccination volumes are increased.
In the Australian state of Victoria, the quarantine has been extended again: so far, it is not possible to suppress the outbreak of the new Indian strain B.1.617.2. So far, about 60 cases of infection have been registered, but its extremely rapid spread makes it difficult to track contacts.
Of particular concern are cases of infections that did not exist before. People become infected with short-term contacts, such as in stores. A case of infection of a person with “Indian” in a room that the infected person left two hours before was revealed. Another incident occurred on the street.
At the Brighton Beach Hotel, one person became infected in an outdoor dining room: no one had ever imagined that the virus could be transmitted in such a well-ventilated place.
It was not possible to find out how the employee of the nursing home became infected. “We haven’t seen this in 2020, and these transmission routes are of concern. This option is not the most contagious, but it is more contagious than anything we saw in early and mid-2020,” said the state’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton.
At least 10 out of 60 people infected with the Indian strain caught the virus through casual contact, outside the workplace or at home. Local scientists call this pathway of infection “fleeting contact” and ” transmission of the virus from stranger to stranger.” They say that people pass by each other and get infected, which is very different from what it was before when transmission occurred mainly in collectives, homes, and workplaces. The ease with which the virus spreads is called a feature of the Indian version.
It was because of these cases that Brett Sutton decided to extend the lockdown for another week. Professor Sutton said that the new strain of coronavirus has acquired the same contagiousness as measles, and this does not bode well.
The rapid spread of the Indian strain is also reported from Canadian Ontario: here B.1.617.2 confidently displaces all other variants of the “crown.” Only in one week of May, a six-fold increase was recorded, and now 10% of all infections are accounted for by the “Indian.”
Experts are particularly interested in the influence of a significant stratum of the vaccinated population on possible mutations. Canada has already surpassed Britain and is quickly catching up with Israel in the number of people vaccinated with at least one dose. The decline in the prevalence of known strains in Ontario’s latest epidemiological report on COVID-19 has led some infectious disease experts to say the province should be prepared for a more resilient version of the coronavirus, even as more people are being vaccinated. The Indian strain is transmitted faster and “better” than the strains from Britain, Brazil, and South Africa, so it continues to push its “competitors.” It is he who is accused of forming the third wave in Canada.
In the UK, the situation is similar: the B.1.617.2 strain is gaining momentum compared to its predecessors at such a rate that some scientists are calling for a delay in the plan to end the restrictions from June 21.
The new variant has a set of mutations that are completely different from those that are characteristic of the other three variants. This makes B.1.617.2 more difficult to detect, as it is invisible to rapid screening tests that have been designed to identify other variants. In addition, a British study conducted last month found that the B.1.617.2 variant reduces the effectiveness of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines by up to 33.5% after the first dose. Protection against the new variant after the second dose increased to 90% and 60% for these two types of vaccines. However, people with partial vaccination become an indispensable target for new strains of the virus: on them, it learns to bypass the methods of protection that stand in its way, creating new mutations. The priority of the national Canadian program for the sequencing and exchange of viral genomes has made the study of samples obtained from those who became ill with COVID-19 after vaccination or re-infected after a previous case.