The Institute for Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE) confirmed Tuesday the presence in Mexico of the E484K mutation, the South African and Brazilian variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
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In a statement, José Francisco Muñoz Valle, rector of the University Center for Health Sciences (CUCS) and general coordinator of the Health Situation Room for COVID-19 at the University of Guadalajara ( UdeG ), where the variant was detected, said that these mutations are the most worrying scientists.
He noted that the E484K mutation, which emerged in South Africa and Brazil, has been associated with decreased virus neutralization by up to tenfold, so the virus could be resistant to vaccines and antibody therapies.
“What could happen is that the vaccines have a lower efficacy or that reinfections occur, but studies are lacking to verify to what extent the efficacy of the vaccine can decrease,” he said.
He recalled that the first four suspected cases of people with this mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were reported by the UdG on January 29, although the cases were not serious and although “that leaves us calm,” he acknowledged that few samples have been done to confirm how much spread has occurred.
He explained that so far more than a thousand samples have been analyzed in Jalisco, where the four cases were detected.
“We have another nine samples to validate, so it is not enough yet to say what the implication this could have,” he said.
He reported that InDRE recommends a clinical and epidemiological follow-up, and that is why the university will initiate a Molecular Epidemiological Surveillance System for SARS-CoV-2 in samples from positive patients, which will allow the implementation of effective control strategies against the new coronavirus.
He explained that this surveillance system will allow to identify to what extent the frequency of this mutation is growing, which will contribute to the control of the pandemic.
Until now, Mexico has more than two million infected and has 180,536 deaths, being the third country in the world by absolute numbers of deaths after the United States and Brazil.