After five infections were identified in a residential care centre in Borsbeek near Antwerp last weekend, at least nineteen more people are infected with the Indian variant in Belgium, according to Johan Neyts, virologist with the Rega Institute in Leuven.
The intensive test that can detect variants is done at random, De Standaard reports, and is only conducted on 5-10% of all positive coronavirus tests.
The cases that turned out to be the more-contagious Indian variant all came from patients in Antwerp and Brussels, and about half of them can be linked to travel to that country.
“That indicates that the variant is already circulating in our country, albeit to a limited extent,” Neyts said on Radio 1’s ‘De Morgen’ program.
One person infected with the Indian variant at the Compostela residential care centre in Borsbeek died.
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Since everyone at the residential care centre had already been vaccinated, this raised questions about the vaccines' effectiveness.
“The vaccines work,” said Neyts to that. “If everyone in the residential care centre had not been vaccinated, the Indian variant would have spread like wildfire. That is not the case.”
In regards to the death, Neyts said: “It’s painful, it’s a tragedy for the family of the deceased patient, but we can probably explain this by the fact that vaccines don’t work 100% on everyone.”
No vaccine on the market is said to be 100% effective against the coronavirus.
“The situation in India is worrying,” said Neyts, referring to the rising numbers of both coronavirus infections and deaths in that country, which he indicated is in part due to a lack of sufficient vaccines.
The EU’s newest order of 1.8 billion of the Pfizer vaccine is intended to be shared with countries that have less access to coronavirus vaccines.
The Brussels Times