The increase in cases of covid-19 that the archipelago has been experiencing for a week could be related to the presence of the delta variant of the virus, a more transmissible strain than the alpha - the British - the predominant so far in the Canary Islands.
In fact, in the last week, the delta variant is responsible for 20% of infections, double that of the previous week, and reached 10% in Gran Canaria , three points more than the previous week. This is explained by the head of microbiology at the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (HUNSC), Óscar Díez. "In the last three weeks its presence is doubling," says the expert, who agrees with the WHO that in August the delta strain, which was detected for the first time in India, will be the dominant one.
At the moment, Díez adds, what is known is that it has more “transmissibility than the others . What we perceive is a variant that begins to appear in significant proportions in a rapid time and when one variant behaves like this it replaces the other. What does not seem is that it has greater morbidity, than the Britsh variant
The increasing presence of this variant, explains Díez, is one of the possible causes that Tenerife is registering in recent days numbers of infections above 300."It can explain that we have doubled the cases in the last week, it is one of the reasons," he admits, although we must also remember, "that there has been some relaxation, a decrease in restrictions, classes have ended, the weather is good. .. All this is a breeding ground for this variant, "he adds. “We are giving joy to the virus by reducing restrictions, without masks and without social distance. What we are seeing is that this more transmissible variant has coincided and it has caught us in a time of more social interaction, then it spreads more . Díez recalls that this variant spread rapidly in India and also happened in the United Kingdom, "for days the infections were doubling," he points out,
Another added problem is that already vaccinated people are also getting infected. “Vaccines do not protect 100%. They are a prevention of serious disease, but it seems that you are covered 100% by the vaccine. It is important to keep the measurements, this is not over. Do not be in a hurry . We are in a great hurry to get out. And vaccinated people can be infected and although it is usually mild, they are also contagious because they continue to have a viral load.
In addition, he warns, this will not possibly be the last variant of SARS-CoV-2. "A large part of the world population is not vaccinated, we are fortunate, but if this rate is not followed in those places they will continue to produce strains and mutations." And there is more, the microbiologist regrets the bad vaccination strategies, such as the one followed by some countries delaying the inoculation of the second dose for up to 16 weeks. "With a variant such as delta, and if there are people with a single dose, they are not immunized, if those people are infected they can accelerate the appearance of other variants". “We have already seen how in the UK they have accelerated the second dose because it had left many people without it for a period of 12 or 14 weeks. If they get infected, the virus learns to escape "and can complicate the effectiveness of vaccines.
Last week, the Minister of Health, Blas Trujillo, advanced the incorporation of kits that improve the detection of mutations in key portions of the virus by reducing the time. The idea is to be able to locate possible mutations that especially affect transmissibility in less than 24 hours. However, we must remain vigilant, adds Díez. "Not only is the population aged 15 to 25 being infected, but also the generation of 30 to 40", he warns, "and the covid is not a friendly virus" because, even if the disease is not seriously suffered, it can leave an aftermath.