Aseguran que “la variante india es más transmisible y difícil de contener”

La nueva cepa de coronavirus detectada por primera vez en la India -que ya circula en Argentina- y que se está extendiendo rápidamente en todo el Reino Unido a pesar de su exitosa campaña de vacunación, se clasificó como “variante de preocupación” debido a que es “más transmisible y difícil de contener y evitar que se propague a otros países”, dijo el biólogo José Manuel Jiménez Guardeño, investigador del King’s College de Londres.

Jiménez Guardeño, que recibió en España el Premio Extraordinario de Doctorado del Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB-CSIC) y es investigador del Departamento de Enfermedades Infecciosas del prestigioso instituto en Londres, una de las ciudades más golpeadas por el coronavirus, explicó el alcance que podría tener esta nueva variante denominada B1617.

Hay mucha preocupación en el Reino Unido por la variante india ya que el 21 de junio finaliza la hoja de ruta del Gobierno para salir de la cuarentena. ¿Cómo puede afectar esta cepa?

– Jiménez Guardeño: Las consecuencias que puede tener todavía no están claras. Lo que tenemos por el momento son datos preliminares que indican que podría transmitirse mejor. Esta es la principal razón por la que la Organización Mundial de la Salud acaba de clasificar la cepa como “variante de preocupación mundial” al igual que hizo con las identificadas en Inglaterra, Sudáfrica y Brasil.

El principal problema de que una nueva variante sea más transmisible sería que habría más contagiados y en consecuencia un mayor número de fallecidos.

-¿Se sabe cuál es su peligrosidad?

-Hasta el momento no hay datos suficientes para saber si esta nueva variante es más peligrosa que las anteriores o no. La buena noticia que tenemos es que ya están haciendo experimentos con sueros de personas vacunadas y todo parece indicar que sus anticuerpos son capaces de neutralizar esta nueva variante.

-Hay científicos que están alertando que la cepa llegará a todas partes y que las restricciones locales no funcionarían.

-En mi opinión es muy complicado contener una nueva variante y evitar que se extienda a otros países, sobre todo si esta nueva variante se transmite mejor que otras. La principal razón es que cuando los científicos identifican y ponen nombre a una nueva variante es porque ya lleva circulando semanas o meses, sobre todo en países donde se secuencia muy poco.

En la India se secuencia menos de un 2% de las muestras positivas y para realizar una buena vigilancia de la evolución del virus deberían secuenciar entre el 5 y el 10%.

"Es muy complicado contener una nueva variante y evitar que se extienda a otros países", opinó Jiménez Guardeño.

“Es muy complicado contener una nueva variante y evitar que se extienda a otros países”, opinó Jiménez Guardeño.

-¿Por qué es difícil saber si las nuevas variantes son más contagiosas o más peligrosas?

-Es difícil porque por el momento lo único que tenemos son datos epidemiológicos que indican que podría transmitirse mejor. En estos estudios se compara el crecimiento en el número casos infectados con cada variante dentro de una misma población.

La razón por la que no se puede afirmar con rotundidad que esta nueva variante sea más contagiosa o peligrosa es porque para ello hay que hacer experimentos en el laboratorio para analizar cómo crece en comparación con otras variantes y estudiar su transmisión centrada en aumentar la secuenciación de muestras positivas para detectar lo antes posible la presencia de estas variantes, limitar y controlar la llegada de personas provenientes de países donde estas nuevas variantes presentan un problema y por último y más importante, aumentar lo máximo que se pueda el ritmo de vacunación.

Las vacunas son la mejor arma que tenemos hasta el momento para evitar los casos graves de coronavirus y los fallecimientos.

-Hemos visto que las variantes de Manaos y de la India afectan a gente más joven, ¿se sabe porqué?

-Es cierto que ahora estamos viendo un aumento en el número de jóvenes hospitalizados pero eso no tiene por qué ser debido a las nuevas variantes. Hay datos al respecto, pero no está muy claro todavía. Además, hay que tener en cuenta que gran parte de la población de edad más avanzada y población de riesgo está vacunada al menos con una dosis y hay pocos jóvenes vacunados en comparación.

-¿Las vacunas servirán para inmunizarse contra las variantes o vamos a necesitar otro tipo de soluciones?

-Las vacunas son el mejor aliado que tenemos hasta el momento para evitar los casos graves de coronavirus y los fallecimientos. Además, cada vez hay más datos que indican que las vacunas podrían ayudar a frenar también los contagios y la transmisión del virus.

Por el momento no hay ninguna variante que escape completamente de la respuesta inmune generada por las vacunas. Por otro lado, si hubiera alguna variante que puede evadir la respuesta inmune de los vacunados lo único que habría que hacer es actualizar las vacunas, lo cual es algo relativamente fácil de llevar a cabo.

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