QCOSTARICA – Universidad Nacional (UNA) epidemiologist Juan José Romero does not rule out the possibility that the delta variant of covid-19 is already circulating in Costa Rica due to the strong flow of tourists from Europe and the United States.
Currently, the variant of the virus predominates in Europe and is gaining strength in the United States, so its presence is not ruled out, but for now, in few people.
Romero explained that the genomic surveillance studies carried out by the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa – Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health, together with the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) – University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), do not yet report the presence of delta, probably due to the fact that the number of samples processed is few.
Health Minister Daniel Salas also mentioned the possibility of the variant already in the country during the press conference on Tuesday, saying that the low circulation could be the reason why it has not yet been detected in the laboratories.
Don’t let down your guard
The expert warned that if sanitary measures and restrictions decrease in the country, or tend to relax due to mid-year vacations (to July 11), it is very likely that, at some point, the contagion by delta will increase and generate some type of regrowth or new wave.
Therefore, he considers it essential to take advantage of this period in which the variant has not reached its peak to exceed the vaccination rates, since the vaccine prevents the person from getting complicated if it is infected and, in a significant proportion, the contagion.
There is an indication that the Delta variant may also result in more severe disease, poseing a threat to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people.
“Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far … the virus carries a cluster of mutations, including one known as L452R, that helps it infect human cells more easily.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said Thursday.
“As it is more transmissible in all age strata, children are more likely to get sick and some will require hospitalization; However, to date, there is no conclusive evidence that says that delta affects children and young people with greater force and magnitude, although it is an idea that is already circulating within the world medical population,” said Romero.
The delta variant, first reported in October 2020 in India, is due to a multiple mutation that has two characteristics that make it classified as a variant of concern. Like the others, it is the product of natural processes of selection of viruses trying to ensure their survival in an environment that increasingly tries to stop their advance, either by vaccination or health protocols.
Studies to date suggest the Delta variant is between 40 and 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in the U.K. – which was already 50 percent more transmissible than the original viral strain first detected in Wuhan, China.
Costa Rica is poorly prepared. Less than half of the country’s population (1,629,222) has had the first dose and less than one quarter (811,163) fully vaccinated.
*Based on the latest report (June 28, 2021) by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). See all the statistics here.