Despite being fully vaccinated, seven residents of a nursing home in Belgium died after being infected with the Colombian variant of the COVID-19, according to the virology team that conducted the tests on Friday.
The Colombian variant of Covid-19, or B.1.621, has been detected in recent weeks in the United States, but the cases reported in Europe were rare.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control lists the B1.621 lineage as a component of the coronavirus’s Kappa variant, but not as a variant in and of itself, according to Reuters.
According to Public Health England, Covid-19 vaccines are “less effective” against a new variant discovered in Colombia.
The variant, known as B.1.621, had shown signs of evading the immune response triggered by the vaccines or previous infection, according to PHE.
The seven people who died of Colombian variant at the nursing home in Zaventem, Belgium, near Brussels, were all in their 80s or 90s, and some of them were already in poor physical condition, according to Marc Van Ranst, a virologist at the University of Leuven who conducted tests on the strain found at the nursing home.
“It’s worrisome,” Van Ranst said, referring to the residents’ deaths despite being fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Scientists, for now, are unsure whether the Colombian variant is more transmissible than other variants, the virologist reportedly said.
According to him, the variant currently accounts for less than 1% of known COVID-19 cases in Belgium, compared to 2% in the United States.
According to Van Ranst, the Delta coronavirus variant, which was first discovered in India, is the dominant coronavirus variant in Belgium, accounting for approximately 95% of infections, followed by the Alpha, which was previously dominant in Britain.
Van Ranst said that additional tests will be performed on Friday to rule out the possibility that the nursing home residents died from a different strain of the virus or a different respiratory disease.