Cases of Highly Dangerous Epsilon COVID-19 Variant are Rising in Pakistan

Cases of the ‘Epsilon’ strain of the Coronavirus are steadily rising as at least 40 patients have been diagnosed with the highly dangerous variant all over the country.

Known as the ‘B.1.429,’ the variant first emerged from California last year. It has five mutations, of which the L452R is of particular concern. The L452R mutation increases the infectiousness and vaccine-evading qualities of the strain.

It is considered a highly infectious strain and as transmissible as the Delta variant. It can also evade antibodies and reduce the effectiveness of antibodies developed in fully vaccinated people.

Initial cases of the Epsilon variant in Pakistan were detected back in July this year when five people in Lahore were diagnosed with the strain.

Speaking in this regard, Vice-Chancellor (VC) University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore and Member Scientific Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Javed Akram, said that Epsilon strain emerged from California last year and was later transmitted to the UK and other European countries.

Cases of Epsilon strain are now increasing in Pakistan, adding that five variants and seven mutations of Epsilon have been detected so far, which make it a highly infectious and vaccine-resistant variant of the Coronavirus.

He noted that the original number of people infected with the Epsilon strain is believed to be much higher because the 40 cases of the variant have been detected through genomic sequencing and Pakistan’s capacity to conduct genomic sequence on each sample of Coronavirus is extremely limited.

Dr. Javed urged the public to get vaccinated against Coronavirus at the earliest from their nearest Mass Vaccination Centers (MVCs) as all COVID-19 vaccines offer significant protection against all variants of the Coronavirus.

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