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Health Experts Find No Evidence of Greek Variant of Covid-19

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Credit: Greek Reporter/Vasiliki Chletsi

Experts in Greece reassured the public on Tuesday that there are no indications of a Greek variant of the Covid-19 virus.

There is nothing to indicate a Greek origin mutation, according to Gkikas Magiorkinis and National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Rector Thanos Dimopoulos, both of whom are professors at the NKUA School of Medicine.

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On Monday, the President of the National Vaccination Committee, Maria Theodoridou, expressed concern for any mutated strain, as reports suggested that such a virus mainly existed in the center of Athens. Some reports named it the “Athenian variant.”

“Regarding the ‘Athenian variant’ that exists in the center of Athens, one cannot say that it does not cause concern. There are, however, special observation and recording systems and specialist geneticists and infectious disease specialists will monitor its evolution and let us hope that it will be very limited,” Theodoridou stressed.

However, the two professors on Tuesday were more reassuring. They pointed out that the naming of novel coronavirus variants is a complex process, given that the creation of mutations is extremely frequent in RNA viruses, even those with correction mechanism like Covid-19.

When this process of mutation leads to a strain that spreads in the population and is sufficiently different, either through chance or because it has some advantage, this creates a new lineage that is named as a variant and which in the past was named after the location where it was first detected.

Most frequent Covid variant in Greece

This method has now been abandoned in favor of a method that uses a combination of letters and numbers that indicate a strain’s evolutionary history, they added.

In the case of the variant B.1.1.318, which is the second most frequent variant detected in Greece in recent months, this was first reported in Nigeria but has already been detected in many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Austrian, Germany, Sweden, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Slovenia, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Argentina, Gambia, Gambon and Turkey.

Consequently, the two professors noted, there is no indication that the specific strain is of Greek origin or in any way peculiar to Greece, while there is no clear evidence indicating that it is more transmissible, dangerous or less susceptible to vaccines and it’s not on the list of variants of concern.

Covid-19 cases spike in Greece

The EODY, Greece’s Public Health Organization, announced on Monday that a total of 63 new coronavirus deaths had been recorded in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll of the pandemic to 11,415.

Monday’s death toll marked an increase of six people over those who had succumbed with the virus one day prior; Tuesday’s figure showed another increase of seven individuals.

Since the beginning of the epidemic a total of 11,534 deaths have been recorded in Greece; 95.2% of the victims suffered from an underlying disease and / or were age 70 years or older.

Additionally, the EODY announced that 2,812 individuals had been diagnosed with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, representing an increase of 1,410 over the previous day, when 1,402 new coronavirus infections had been reported.

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