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Indian Variant of the Coronavirus Arrives in Greece

Covid-19 indian variant
Credit: Greek Reporter

The Indian variant of the coronavirus, or B.1.617, has arrived in Greece, as two cases of the mutation were confirmed in the country in late April.

It’s still unclear whether the variant spreads more quickly or causes more severe cases of the virus than the stand form of Covid-19.

Additionally, it is not yet known how effective vaccines are in preventing the spread of the variant.

The variant was first discovered in India in October. Since then, it has spread globally, mainly in Europe.

Currently, apart from Greece and India, cases of the mutation have been identified in the US, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, and the UK, where 77 cases of the mutation have been recorded.

Latest case of Indian variant found in woman who traveled to Dubai

The latest case of the mutation involves a foreign-born woman who lives in Attica, where the Greek capital of Athens is located.

The 33-year-old woman traveled to Dubai in April, where her Covid-19 test, required to travel to Greece, came back negative.

Upon returning to Greece, symptoms of the virus began to appear. Although her symptoms were not severe enough to require hospitalization, the woman did take a Covid test to confirm that she had the virus.

After analyzing her results, the laboratory then confirmed that she had the Indian variant or the virus.

Greece’s National Public Health Organization is currently conducting strenuous contact tracing, hoping to identify anyone who could potentially be infected with the Indian coronavirus variant.

First person with the Indian coronavirus variant had not traveled

The first case of the viral mutation was found in Patra, in the Peloponnese. Much like with the other case of the mutation, the person infected with the variant did not present severe symptoms.

However, the person with the Indian coronavirus variant in Patra had not traveled, nor could experts determine with certainty that they had come in contact with someone who had the coronavirus, leaving the case a mystery.

Variants behind coronavirus spike in India; lack of oxygen, hospital beds leading to many deaths

Experts believe that a mix of variants across the Indian subcontinent is behind the massive spike in coronavirus cases in the country.

On Sunday, India recorded 349,691 cases of the virus in a 24 hour period, the highest number of daily cases ever identified in one country.

Many fear that lack of access to testing means that the true number is much higher.

This is the fourth day in a row that the country has broken the record. The spike comes after daily cases were incredibly low in the country, particularly in February.

Adding to the tragedy, hospitals around major cities are almost completely full.

There is also a lack of supplemental oxygen in India, which is a crucial treatment for those with severe cases of the virus.

According to reports, at least 20 people with the coronavirus died in a hospital in Delhi due to a lack of oxygen.

Some hospitals have even announced that they would stop admitting patients due to fears out of running out of oxygen.

Why viral mutations occur

When a person is infected with a virus, the virus makes copies of itself inside their body. Mutations begin to form as enzymes, responsible for copying the RNA of the virus, are prone to making mistakes in the multiplication process. Often, these mistakes are marginal.

If the host of these viruses with mistakes in its RNA spread the illness, it become a variant or mutation.

Commonly, these mutations have little difference from the standard virus, or can even be less contagious or less severe.

Until the discovery of the multiple variants, scientists were surprised that more mutations of Covid-19 were not identified throughout the pandemic, as it is common for viruses to have many variant forms.

Further research showed that this lack of Covid mutations is due to the fact that there is an enzyme present in the virus that goes back to “fix” the mistakes made by the other enzyme responsible for copying the virus’ RNA, potentially decreasing the number of variants of the coronavirus.

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