Västmanland is the first region in Sweden to discover a widespread outbreak of the South African variant without connection to travelers.
Not all examples of cluster outbreaks have undergone a so-called whole genome sequence – an analysis of the genome of the virus that can show what virus variant it is. In addition to the 20 cases now confirmed, another 10 to 20 people could be infected by the South African variant in Västmanland, according to Emeli Månsson, doctor for infection control in the region.
“Detection of infection shows that the infection occurred mainly in the most common places: at work and at home,” she tells DN.
The South African virus variant, that is called B1351, is rumored to be more contagious than the original virus. There is no evidence that it could cause serious illness, but there have been warnings that vaccines do not work in the same way against the variant.
Since none of the 20 cases have any connection with travel, it is difficult to determine the source of the outbreak.
– It is not certain that we will be able to determine if this virus variant came to Västmanland. We are investigating it, but of course we are focusing mainly on the current cases, says Emeli Månsson.
The confirmation that it is actually B1351 came now – but the infected were confirmed sick in covid-19 two weeks ago. The region’s infection control was informed that they could move about the South African virus through the routine monitoring that takes place and that takes place through so-called mutant PCR tests.
Mutant PCR does not give a definitive result on what virus variant it is, but it may give a preliminary answer. The result must then be confirmed by whole genome sequence. The whole genome sequence is more advanced, it can not be done in the Västmanland region and the result often lasts several weeks.
Emeli Månsson embarrassed that there is great uncertainty about how many are actually infected by the virus variant. She is of the opinion that it is currently not possible to assess the extent of the risk to a wider social spread of the South African mutant.
– I think it is wise not to speak so confidently about that issue. We currently know too little about this variant, she says and continues:
– What is reassuring is that the monitoring with mutant PCR has continued and shows that the South African variant still accounts for at most a few percent of all covid cases in Västmanland, says Emeli Månsson.
She emphasizes the importance of following advice and recommendations and avoiding situations of risk of infection.
– What we really want to print is that this variant is not spread in any other way than the original virus. It’s still about keeping your distance, avoiding new contacts and staying home when you are sick.
In addition to the South African variant, there are also the British and Brazilian mutants. In Västmanland, the British variant now accounts for about 25 per cent of all covid cases.
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