‘Covid variant detected in UK spreading quickly in Sweden’
Stockholm, Feb 3 (IANS) The coronavirus variant first detected in UK is gaining a foothold in Sweden, where it was identified in approximately 11 per cent of 2,200 positive Covid-19 tests, the Public Health Agency of Sweden said in a press release.
Samples collected from four of Sweden’s 21 counties have been screened for the mutated virus, believed to be more contagious than the original strain, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
“We still see a large number of new cases in Sweden, even though the trend is downward,” Sara Byfors, unit manager at the agency, said in the press release. “At the same time, the UK variant is spreading in the country and therefore we want to emphasize the importance of everyone following the regulations and general advice to reduce the spread of infection. Avoid unnecessary contacts and travel, work from home if you can, and stay at home when you are ill.”
According to the agency, the mutated virus causes up to 90 per cent of new cases in many other European countries. On January 29, the authority therefore requested tighter requirements for travellers into Sweden. The government has promised to fast-track the request.
Sweden is also joining the growing list of countries not recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine for those older than 65. There is not enough data regarding its efficacy against severe Covid-19 in the elderly, the agency said in another press release.
By Tuesday, 576,606 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in Sweden since the pandemic started. Since Friday, the number of deaths has increased by 224 to 11,815. Meanwhile, the number of patients in intensive care had decreased from 277 to 240.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on January 29.