So far, all the vaccines administered in Peru are effective against the variants circulating in the national territory, including the C.37, experts from the National Health Institute (INS)
"Up to now, all vaccines have proven to be highly effective against severe disease and death. And there is no exception in the case of the C.37 variant," explained Lely Solari, infectious disease specialist at the INS.
She noted that significant reductions of severe disease and mortality rates were observed in all vaccinated groups —including healthcare workers and elderly people immunized with the vaccines developed by Sinopharm
(which uses an inactivated virus) and Pfizer
(which uses messenger-RNA, or mRNA).
"Despite the fact that this new variant is circulating, the drop in cases suggests that it is also susceptible to the vaccines available in the country," the expert said in statements to Canal N.
"We are going to confirm this in the laboratory, but so far we have a lot of peace of mind in this regard," she added.
C.37 variant found in 80% of cases
Solari explained that the location of the C.37 variant has been possible thanks to the new genomic surveillance platform implemented by the INS, whose results are entered into a global database.
The new equipment has made it possible to conduct more genomic sequencing on COVID-19. Of the 623 samples analyzed over the past two weeks, 80% tested positive for the C.37 variant, which makes it predominant in the country.
"503 out of the 623 samples show presence of the C.37 variant. The first case was detected in November 2020. Subsequently, the Cayetano Heredia University research team reported 20 cases between January and March. Now we are reporting 500 cases in April, which were recorded in 19 regions across the country," Solari remarked.
Out of the total 623 samples analyzed, 80% tested positive for the C.37 variant, while 11.7% for the P1, or Brazilian variant
. The B.1.1.7 variant was found in 1.9% of the cases. Moreover, the B.1.351 and B.1.617 variants —first detected in South Africa and India, respectively— have not been identified in these samples.
Additionally, the infectious disease specialist reported that the C.37 variant has been found in 30% of the cases in Argentina and in 40% of Chilean cases.