Brazilian, Indian coronavirus strains recorded in Estonia

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A nurse administering a PCR coronavirus test. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Two cases of the Indian strain and one case of the Brazilian strain of the coronavirus were found in Estonia last week, Postimees reported on Thursday.

Hanna Sepp, head of the infection control department at the Estonian Health Board, said: "Last week, we discovered an infected person who had contracted the Brazilian strain. The Health Board has contacted this person and explained why they must adhere to their requirement to self-isolate."

The presence of the Brazilian strain in Estonia was discovered through random sampling. The case arrived from Belgium and the carrier has not had any close contacts, Tiia Luht, head of the southern regional department of the Estonian Health Board, told Postimees.

"This person has been responsible and aware of their obligation to avoid all contacts," Luht said.

Irja Lutsar, virology professor and head of the anti-COVID-19 scientific council advising the government, said relatively little is known about the Brazilian strain. Studies have show that it spreads faster than the regular strain of the coronavirus and is resistant to antibodies obtained through vaccination or recovering from the virus.

"To our knowledge, a large population already had antibodies in Brazil last summer; however, a new outbreak nonetheless occurred in January, which is estimated to have been caused by the Brazilian strain," Lutsar said. "Most of this data is from South-American states, which have said that the new outbreaks are attributable to the Brazilian strain, which escapes immunity caused by vaccines."

The Brazilian strain does not account for the majority of cases in any European state, according to the virologist.

"These are small outbreaks. The extent of the spread of this strain is not comparable to that of the British strain," Lutsar said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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