The seven cases of the Brazilian variant in Portugal come from the same coronavirus transmission chain

This Sunday, Insa announced that seven cases in Portugal related to the variant first identified in Brazil, also known as the “Manaus variant”, 501Y.V3 (P.1), have been confirmed. At the Infarmed meeting on Monday, João Paulo Gomes, a researcher at the National Institute of Health, told Doutor Ricardo Jorge (Insa) that these are “current cases” and that we are only facing an introduction, that is, “two clusters, the family members connect ”in the same transmission chain. “That’s good news. If there were seven independent cases, we could be talking about seven different active chains.”

These cases were the first to be identified in Portugal by genomic sequencing and classified as suspicious by the laboratories of UniLabs and Synlab. The cases have been reported to health authorities.

In the case of the variant originally identified in the UK (line B.1.1.7), it is possible to determine its distribution through a collaboration between Insa and the Unilabs laboratory. Using a specific diagnostic test, it is possible to determine the failure to detect a particular gene and to determine whether one is facing this variant. Taking this laboratory’s case history into account in the number of total tests in Portugal, it is estimated that around 150,000 cases of Covid-19 have been caused by the British variant in the country since December 1, said João Paulo Gomes.

With this variant now estimated to be 48% of cases in the country, a forecast was made in the third week of the year to understand what it would be like in the next three weeks. “In this projection that ended the other Sunday [14 de Fevereiro]We expected that 65% of the cases would be caused by this variant, ”said the investigator. “This has not happened thanks to the rigid limitation we are experiencing. There was a deviation in the projection. “He also said that this week – at 48% – and” didn’t show a growing trend, “but that the second week of the year was around 80% and the third week 85%. In the past two weeks it has fluctuated between 4 and 10%.

“It would be expected that a more transferable variant, despite the containment measures, would further increase its relative share compared to the other variants,” said João Paulo Gomes. Ultimately, with limitation, social distance and the use of a mask, it was expected that only that which “has a high transferable power” would be transmitted. However, the expected exponential growth was not confirmed and a plateau was observed.

What happened then? “What possibly happened is that we were able to block all transmissions in addition to the primary transmission,” said the investigator. “By blocking all secondary transmission processes in addition to the initial transmission, one more portable variant has lost this advantage over the others.” Nonetheless, he stressed that this is only valid “with a very strict limitation like the one we are currently experiencing and that this can explain the plateau in relation to the development of this variant”.

But he also left a warning: “If we suspect that this variant will not go away, it will continue to be more transferable and not lose its properties,” he said. “It is normal that we can see new exponential growth of this variant.” For this reason, he pointed out that “an imbalance must be established in the deflation process that allows the most transmissible variants to return to their exponential path and the immunity of the desired group”.

In the case of the South African variant (line B.1.351), only four cases have so far been found in Portugal.