First case of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant found in Pakistan
The first-ever case of the highly infectious B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, has been detected in Pakistan despite a ban on travelers from the neighboring country since April, the country's top health institute in Islamabad has said. Notably, the World Health Organization has said that the B.1.617 strain of coronavirus has been found in dozens of countries all over the world.
Seven cases of variant found in South Africa also detected
The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday shared the results of whole-genome sequencing of SARS- CoV-2 samples collected during the first three weeks of May, The Express Tribune reported on Friday. "The sequencing results confirmed the detection of seven cases of B.1.351 (variant found in South Africa) and one case of B.1.617.2 (first identified in India)," the NIH said in a statement.
Contact tracing of all infected persons is in progress
According to the report, as per the protocols, contact tracing of all the cases is in progress by the Field Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance Division and District Health Office (DHO), Islamabad.
Pakistan had banned travelers from India in April
The NIH said that the continued detection of global strains highlights the ongoing need for observation of guidelines, usage of masks, and need for vaccination. After India's outbreak of COVID-19 fueled by the new strain earlier this year, Pakistan in April had imposed a ban on travelers arriving from the neighboring country via the air, sea, and land routes.
Variant was detected in Thai travelers back from Pakistan
"However, in May, the variant was detected in Thai travelers who had visited Pakistan," the report said. "Health authorities in Thailand had confirmed the country's first case of the variant first identified in India in a Thai woman and her 4-year-old son who were reportedly put in state quarantine since arriving from Pakistan," it added.
Multiple vaccines have been found effective against the B.1.617 variant
Notably, several reports have pointed out that the separate vaccines produced globally can protect against the B.1.617 strain. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, Indian vaccines—Covishield and COVAXIN, are deemed effective in generating an immune response against the COVID-19 variant, whereas the manufacturers of Pfizer vaccine have also assured "high-effectiveness" of the vaccine against the strain.