The spread of the British variant of the coronavirus does not seem to stop in the Netherlands anymore. Until now, the new variant has been established in two Dutch people, but RIVM suspects that the corona variant has already been spread throughout the country.
“ Several signals point to this,” says Chantal Reusken, head virologist of RIVM against DeccEit. According to her, it is a matter of days before the new variant will appear in samples carried out at corona-virus tests in different regions.
The British variant does not seem more harmful, but more contagious. “Evidence accumulates that this variant is easier to infect people. It is expected that, as in the United Kingdom, this variant will eventually become the dominant tribe in the Netherlands,” says Reusken.
In order to know how the variation is distributed in the Netherlands, samples are carried out at different corona-virus slabs. The samples of people who are being tested are examined to keep an eye on which variants of the coronavirus cause infections in the Netherlands.
No link with VK
Up to now, weekly samples of 500 samples at a time have shown that two people from the Amsterdam region had the variant. One of the persons was tested in early December, the other person eight days later.
The GGD informed DeccEit that no link with the United Kingdom has been found in both individuals through source and contact investigations. The persons have not travelled and have become infected separately from each other. Also, the suspected sources of the infections were not known to be in the UK.
The missing connection with the UK and the fact that there are about ten days between the infections of the two people, strengthens Reusken in the thought that the variant of the virus is now widely circulating. “Amsterdam is a crowded region, it is a bad sign that it will show up there.”
She thinks that the variant is not yet dominant in the Netherlands. “We would have seen him more often.” According to her, the sharp increase in the number of infections since last month cannot be explained by the introduction of the new variant.
GGD must report
In addition to the entry ban (which has now been lifted), no new measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the English corona variant within the Netherlands. For example, the GGD did not have to pay extra attention to a connection with the UK during the source and contact investigations.
It changed this afternoon: a spokesman for RIVM informing that the GGDs were asked by letter “to check whether there is a direct link with the UK, with him/herself or his contacts”. Such contacts shall be reported to the RIVM.
Furthermore, additional research will be carried out in the coming period in case of special outbreaks, for example if suddenly there are many infections in a nursing home. “In the case of samples from the corona-virus tests, priority will be given to whether the British variant is concerned,” says Reusken.
“ The measures we already have to prevent the circulation of the virus remain and are not changed by this new variant. If the variant is actually more contagious, you might say that the need to comply with the measures is only increasing,” she says.
Frits Rosendaal, epidemiologist at the LUMC, calls it plausible that the English variant will become dominant in the Netherlands. “He‘s already there and he’s spreading, besides, he seems much more contagious.”
In order to determine the degree of contagiousness, you should look at the extent to which the virus strain will dominate other strains. With a more contagious virus, you have to get less inside to get sick, it will push away other strains. In England, that seems to happen now.
Rosendaal: “If this variant is widely circulated in the Netherlands, it will take longer for the epidemic to be under control. Then you have to take the same measures that we are already taking, only more people have to stick to it in order to reduce the number of infections. What else can you do in the Netherlands? Only a curfew we have left.”