Five coronavirus variants detected in Mexico

05/02/2021

During the afternoon conference led by the Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, it was reported that five variants of the coronavirus have been detected in Mexico.

Dr. Ernesto Ramirez Gonzales, head of the Technological Development and Molecular Research Unit of the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE) made this announcement during his participation in the update of coronavirus data in the country.

"In Mexico we have detected five cases of coronavirus variants, as more samples arrive we will be able to detect more and define what is the percentage of variant samples in relation to this of the sequenced samples," he said.

Since December 20, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the emergence of the "English variant" in the United Kingdom, the main characteristic of which was that it began to spread more rapidly.

So far, 23 different variants of this first variant have been detected. In Mexico, the study of the English variant began and the first sample from a person of English origin who arrived in Mexico from a trip was analyzed. The results showed that he was a carrier of the 23 variants identified.

What is a variant?

According to Dr. Ramirez Gonzalez, it is "the accumulation of changes or mutations in a virus genome that makes it different from the original". In the case of the coronavirus, these differences are due to the virus that emerged from the city of Wuhan, China.

"These variants, these mutations and these changes have characteristics that make it different, that have a type of impact on Public Health, for example, greater transmissibility, evasion of immune response, or greater attraction to the cell it is going to infect", reiterated Ramirez Gonzalez.

The fact of finding a change in the virus does not necessarily imply that it is a variant, since only when it has changes of impact could it be included with the other mutations or as a new one.

Is there a Mexican variant?

In the last few days, news of a possible "Mexican variant" of the coronavirus was made public. To put an end to the sayings, the InDRE official pointed out that the known case in Jalisco, known as E484K, has to be investigated to characterize it clinically, genetically and epidemiologically and thus know its impact in Mexico.

"We have to do a genomic surveillance, we have to start, in fact we have been doing it all last year, start observing how this virus behaves genetically: sequence a significant number of samples and see what is happening," he concluded.

Almost 750 genome sequences have been completed in Mexico, which makes the country the third country that has contributed the most information in this field to international research, only behind Brazil (2,466) and Chile (966).