It seems that the Indian variant of the coronavirus is slightly more contagious than the British variant. That says virologist Marion Koopmans based on data that have become known in recent days. Previously, there were already suspicions in other virologists that the Indian variant would be more contagious.
India is currently at the frontrunner in terms of the number of coronavirus infections. The country has been severely affected, according to official figures, more than 400,000 infestations per day are being infested. Experts say that the actual number is much higher, because not everyone gets tested or because people can not get a test.
The relative number of new infections is officially still lower than in the Netherlands. On average, 41.6 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants were detected in the Netherlands in the last seven days. In India, that was 28.2.
Over the last 24 hours, 4,000 coronadodes have been reported in India. Thats the highest so far. The total number of deaths has increased to 238,730. However, all the figures coming from India are questioned by experts; presumably the actual number is higher.
Yesterday, British scientists warned about a “worrying” Indian corona variant, which would spread faster than the original coronavirus. “We now know the India variant B.1.617 and B.1.618, says Koopmans. “At the beginning of the rapid increase in the number of infections in India, we saw both increase, with the 1,617 viruses being specifically monitored due to a number of mutations.” Subvariants have now emerged from this: B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3.
She still finds it difficult to say how dangerous these variants are, because the figures from India are limited. But on the basis of the data known so far, it appears that there has been increased contagiousness.
“ In the English and Indian data of recent days, the picture appears that in particular B.1.617.2 is increasing, also in proportion to the spread of the British variant. That suggests that it is even more contagious,” says Koopmans.
Coronal rules not complied with
In India, it is currently difficult to get the care you need when you get sick. There is a lack of medicines, equipment, beds and oxygen. The hospitals have been full for weeks.
“ Meanwhile, in Delhi, we are in a situation where everyone sees how serious it is, people stick to the measures and stay at home,” says correspondent Aletta André. That was not the case before. According to experts in India, among other things, the number of infections is rising so sharply because the coronal rules have not been complied with for weeks.
fact that in India now several virus variants circulate at the same time can be a consequence of the high degree of spread, rather than the cause, says Koopmans. “Most likely its a bit of both.”
In February, things went pretty well in the Asian country. People felt safe. Yet the government should have done more to warn the population, critics say.
Aletta André: “The pandemic is not over yet, but the basic measures were not complied with at that time. There were no measures, except that the schools were closed. The duty of mouth cap was also not observed, for example. Life was quite carefree.”
The provision of information from the government was also deficient. “Many people have faith in Prime Minister Modi. When he spoke to thousands of people in the campaign for regional elections without a mouthcap, many thought that corona was over, while the number of infections was rising. It could have been less violent if measures had been taken earlier.”
Two weeks ago it was announced that twenty Indian students in Belgium had become infected with the Indian corona variant. It was striking that some of them had already been vaccinated. Since then, there are concerns as to whether the vaccines now used will help.
On the basis of the first experiments carried out in Cambridge, Koopmans thinks that vaccines are effective here too, but the results have not yet been published. “Most likely, the vaccines also provide protection against the Indian variants, at least protection against serious illness,” she says.
If research shows that the Indian variant is more contagious than the British one, then we have to take into account the number of infections in the Netherlands will decrease more slowly. “Its a scenario we have to take into account. It could mean a longer spout and a less free summer,” says Koopmans.
Lack of transparency
Since this week, international emergency aid to India has been slowly starting. There was a delay because there was discussion about how all goods should be distributed nationally. Meanwhile, several hospitals in Delhiresources and equipment arrived, but there are still Länder waiting for help in the immense country.
Aletta André: “There would be quite a few of the assistance received at the airport in Delhi. Were still hearing from hospitals that they dont have oxygen. There is also complaining about lack of transparency from the government where the aid is going.”