Scientists from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), the state of La Paz, detected the Andean variant of SARS-CoV-2 in samples taken at the government headquarters that could cause a new outbreak in Bolivia.
This Andean variant also known as Lambda was detected in an investigation by the Molecular Genetics Laboratory of the Chemical Research Institute, the Seladis Institute and the San Pedro Claver Hospital in Sucre, according to a bulletin released by the UMSA.
This study was carried out with samples collected in May and June in six regions of the country to carry out genomic surveillance and apply “genomic sequencing methods”.
In the samples collected, it was determined that in those from La Paz there is the presence of the Andean variant, while in 11 of 18 tests the Brazilian P1 variant was detected, according to the statement. These sequences were verified by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) which is now in charge of verifying the sequences of the coronavirus worldwide.
According to the researchers from that university, this Andean variant could be the cause of a new outbreak in the country, which also presents the symptom of generating intestinal problems more frequently.
“Continuous genomic surveillance is suggested to avoid new outbreaks that could be driven by the appearance of new variants in the country,” the scientists recommended in the report.
For his part, the executive secretary of the La Paz Health Medical Branch (Sirmes), Fernando Romero, confirmed that the Andean variant is “causing very strong digestive diseases.”
He also highlighted that the delta variant detected in India is already present in countries bordering Bolivia, so it could enter Bolivian territory and cause a re-outbreak with serious consequences for the population.
Romero asked the Government of Luis Arce as well as the municipal authorities to take measures and contain them at the borders, as well as to vaccinate 12-year-old children to prevent contagion.
The Vice Minister of Health System Management, Álvaro Terrazas, ruled out that the Andean variant generates a fourth wave and said that it has circulated in the country since the second wave in February this year.
Terrazas indicated that the situations that cause a new wave are the absence of biosecurity measures and the “accumulation of susceptible people.”
In April the health authorities confirmed that in the country there is the presence of the British and Brazilian variants that are characterized by being highly transmissible.
This Lambda variant is present in several countries in the region such as Peru.
Bolivia continues to vaccinate its population that began last week with people over 18 years of age, after inoculating health personnel, people with underlying diseases, over 30, journalists and teachers.
Immunization with the first dose reached 2,062,126 while 745,786 with the second in the country, which includes Chinese Sinopharm, Russian Sputnik V, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, the latter donated by the United Nations COVAX mechanism.
The Government of Luis Arce announced last week that six million Sinopharm vaccines will be purchased and will reach the country until August.
Bolivia accumulates 446,362 COVID-19 infections and 16,985 deaths since the first cases detected in March of last year.