The coronavirus with the same mutations as the recently emerged UK virus variant was found weeks ago in Spain. People who had not been to England or had contact with people who came from there were infected.
The data comes from genetic analysis carried out by the biomedical research institute Fundación Fisabio of the Valencia region. Hospitals in the Madrid and Andalusia region are also investigating cases of the British variant in patients who have not had any relationship with the United Kingdom.
Spread of virus variant within Spain still unknown
British experts have said the newly emerged virus is 70% more contagious than the virus already circulating in Europe. According to Pere Godoy of the Spanish Association of Epidemiology, it is difficult to predict how the new variant will behave in countries outside the United Kingdom. It depends, among other things, on the number of mutations in the new variant itself, the number of people infected with it and the speed with which the vaccination campaign will proceed. It is not yet known to what extent the new virus has now spread within Spain.
At Ramón y Cajal hospital Madrid, 1% of 700 Covid patients tested were found to have the UK virus variant. The British variant has also surfaced several times in Andalusia. According to two regional hospital directors, not all cases can be traced back to Gibraltar or the UK. This indicates a circulation of the virus within Andalusia itself.
“I suppose the new virus has been present in Spain for weeks. We just cannot find out to what extent this virus has contributed to the recent increase in the number of infections in Spain because it is now also very cold, people are mainly indoors and we have just finished the holidays, ”says one of the hospital directors.
The consequences of the virus variant may not have impact
Experts find it unsurprising the British variant emerged in Spain, given free movement continued after it first appeared in England. Researcher Fernando González Candelas of Fundación Fisabio hypothesises the variant has been circulating undetected outside the UK in small concentrations for some time. According to Gónzales Candelas, it is still too early to comment on the spread of the variant within Spain. Generally, newly imported variants do not have major consequences for the epidemiological course. Moreover, too little is currently known about the degree of contagion.