Spain is detecting an increasing number of potentially dangerous coronavirus strains, including its first case of a so-called “double mutant,” according to a document published by the Health Ministry on Monday.
The country found one case of the UK strain carrying an E484K mutation in the spike protein.
The same mutation has already been found in the South African and Brazilian variants. Scientists call it an escape mutation because it helps the virus slip past the immune system, according to the British Medical Journal.
It was first detected in the UK, but the individual who caught it in Spain had no travel history.
The UK strain is behind the vast majority of Spain’s infections — making up 75% to 99% of cases — depending on the region.
But the South African and Brazilian strains also appear to be gaining ground. Spain is now detecting those variants through PCR testing, but is unable to differentiate between the two.
The Health Ministry said both strains, more likely to cause reinfection and evade vaccines, are making up between 0.3% and 4.1% of cases in six regions.
Spain also detected six other “variants of interest,” which scientists are still investigating. This includes 41 cases of the variant associated with Nigeria, 14 of the variant associated with Rio de Janeiro, and 41 cases of the strain first found in California — with none of the infected reported having traveled internationally.
Spain is not keeping track of the variants currently ripping through India, but the country’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simon said on Monday he did not have knowledge of infections in Spain.
Despite the variants, the country has managed to keep infections relatively stable. Over the weekend, the country reported 19,852 new infections, down slightly from the week before.
The Basque Country continues to see infections accelerate and started canceling non-urgent surgeries.
Nationwide, active hospitalizations also spiked significantly, with hospitals treating nearly 400 more COVID-19 patients on Monday compared to Friday.
Another 147 people died of the disease.
Meanwhile, Spain received a record 2 million vaccine doses on Monday, which officials hope will stem the spread of the virus.
Nearly 65% of people older than 60 in Spain have already received at least one jab.
Source: Anadolu Agency