Even as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread in several parts of the world, seven residents of a nursing home in Belgium have lost their lives after being infected with B.1.621, a variant of coronavirus first detected in Colombia, despite being fully vaccinated, experts that conducted tests said.
A virology team that conducted the tests said the residents had been infected with the B.1.621 lineage of COVID-19. Besides Columbia, the variant has also been detected in recent weeks in the U.S. However, its cases in Europe are rare.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has labeled B.1.621 as a “variant of interest,” meaning that preliminary evidence suggests a significant impact on transmissibility, severity, or immunity. So far, scientists do not know if the B.1.621 lineage is more transmissible than other variants of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
Marc Van Ranst, a virologist at the University of Leuven who conducted tests on the virus found at the nursing home, said that the seven people who died in Belgium were all in their 80’s or 90’s and some were already in poor physical condition.
At least 21 other residents at the nursing home in Belgium were also infected with the variant together with some staff. Infected staff experienced only mild symptoms, Van Ranst told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Dr. Greogory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that there are 1, 500 known cases of the Lambda variant in the U.S.
Poland said that it might still be too early to tell if the Lambda variant will dominate the U.S. But in Peru, it has become the dominant variant spreading quickly in South America.