The National Institute of Health (NIH) has confirmed 1 case each of the highly contagious South African and Brazilian variants of COVID-19 in Islamabad.
According to a statement by the Health Ministry, NIH detected the two strains through genome sequencing of a single sample, adding that concerned authorities are actively tracing and isolating the contacts of the positive cases.
The statement added that these variants have high transmissibility and fatality rates and these strains are not vaccine responsive either because efficacies of COVID-19 vaccines against these variants have not been determined yet.
Health Ministry has requested the public to avoid crowded spaces and unnecessary travel and adhere to COVID-19 SOPs otherwise, a humanitarian crisis similar to India can erupt in the country as well.
The confirmation from the NIH comes only a day after Sindh’s Health Minister, Dr. Azra Fazal, revealed that South African and Brazilian variants of COVID-19 have been found in Sindh.
More on Brazilian and South African variants
The Brazilian variant of COVID-19 was first detected by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Japan, on 6 January 2021 in four people who had arrived in Tokyo after visiting Amazonas, Brazil, four days earlier.
Since then, the variant has spread to more than 35 countries and is currently wreaking devastation across South America, causing the number of cases, deaths, and hospitalization to skyrocket.
Brazilian variant of COVID-19 is up to 2.2 times more transmissible and 1.9 times more fatal and as much as 61% more capable of reinfecting people than the previous original version of the Coronavirus.
On the other hand, the South African variant was first detected by the researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in late December last year.
Since then, the strain has been detected in more than 60 countries around the world.
South African variant of COVID-19 is 50% more transmissible than the original version of the Coronavirus and 20% more apt at evading the immune response in previously infected individuals.
Where the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against new variants is concerned, it must be noted that current vaccines are designed around the original strain of COVID-19, but healthcare experts expect the current vaccines to offer some protection against new variants.
Although it is too soon to know exactly how much protection the vaccines offer against the new variants until more tests are conducted, it is extremely unlikely the new strains would render vaccines useless.