Delta variant responsible for nearly 90% of infections in Portugal

  • Lusa
  • 6 July 2021

The Delta variant accounts for nearly 90% of the cases registered in the week between June 21 and 27.

The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, associated with India and considered more transmissible, is responsible for nearly 90% of the cases of infection in Portugal and recorded a strong increase in the Northern region, Madeira and Azores.

The data is contained in the National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) report on the genetic diversity of the virus that causes Covid-19 released on Tuesday and confirms that Delta was the prevalent variant in Portugal in the week of June 21 to 27.

“As expected, its frequency has increased in all regions” in the last month, registering a “strong increase” in the Northern region, where it represents 71.1% of infections, in Madeira (85.7%) and the Azores (64.7%), the institute said.

Portugal is, in recent days, accelerating the pace of vaccination against Covid-19 to respond to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, considered 60% more transmissible than the Alpha, with the task force that coordinates the logistics pointing to the administration of about 850 thousand doses per week.

“The relative frequency of the Beta and Gamma variants, initially associated with South Africa and Brazil (Manaus), respectively, remains low and without an upward trend in recent samples at the national level,” the report said.

Among other variants of interest detected in Portugal, the institute points out the circulation of the variant with lineage B.1.621, initially detected in Colombia, which showed relative frequencies between 1% and 0.4%, as well as Lambda, with strong circulation in Peru and Chile, which was detected in only two cases in Portugal since April this year.

INSA has analysed 10,824 genome sequences of the new coronavirus, obtained from samples collected in more than 100 laboratories, hospitals and institutions, representing 288 municipalities in Portugal.

In June, the institute announced a reinforcement of the surveillance of Covid-19 virus variants circulating in Portugal through its continuous monitoring.

This new strategy allows for a better genetic characterisation of SARS-CoV-2, as data will be analysed continuously. There will no longer be time intervals between analyses, which were essentially dedicated to specific genetic characterisation studies requested by public health.

In Portugal, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 17,118 people have died, and 892,741 cases of infection have been recorded, according to the country’s national health authority, the DGS.