Health authorities on alert over coronavirus variants

Health authorities on alert over coronavirus variants

Health authorities and scientists are on alert for the apparent spread of the British variant of SARS-CoV-2 and the detection of the South African variant in Greece.

As of Monday, authorities in the country had confirmed a total of 173 cases of the the lineage B.1.1.7 (British) had been identified in Attica, Crete, Northern Greece and Patras and one of the B.1.351 lineage (South African) in Thessaloniki.

The case of the deacon in Thessaloniki, who was infected by the South African variant and is said to have previously contracted Covid-19, also raises questions about whether the new strain can escape the body’s immune response created by infection or the vaccines. Experts, however, are reassuring, noting that there is strong evidence that mRNA vaccines provide adequate protection.

But even in the case of re-infections, the most likely outcome is a very mild second infection.

“The case of Thessaloniki, if confirmed, will be a typical example that re-infections from different strains of the new coronavirus are possible,” Athens Medical School professor Athanassios Tsakris told Kathimerini.

“We are just assuming – and hoping – that these will be milder, as is the case, to some extent, with recurrent infections from the endemic types of coronaviruses we come in contact with from childhood.”

According to the professor, the crucial question is whether the neutralizing antibodies, produced either through natural infection or after vaccination, can adequately identify new mutated strains of the virus. 

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