New Variant Not Yet Proven to Be More Contagious, Kári States

Vala Hafstað

Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCode Genetics, states that a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in South Africa with a high number of mutations, has not yet been proven to be more contagious than other variants.

“Various things suggest this variant is worse than other variants, but it is yet to be proven,” he tells mbl.is.

Still, he believes there is every reason to be on the alert and to follow the development of the pandemic and that of the new variant.

“We must continue to do sequence analysis of the virus that spreads to Iceland, but losing sleep over this is, in my opinion, too much,” he adds.

Icelandic health authorities are looking into the possibility of purchasing up to 1,500 doses of the drug Molnupiravir. It comes in tablets, making its use possible outside hospital settings. The drug is reported to be able to considerably reduce the need for COVID-related hospitalizations.

Kári believes the drug will prove useful in the fight against the virus, and he finds 1,500 doses a sensible amount to begin with.

A total of 152 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Iceland yesterday, according to covid.is. Of those diagnosed, 85 were already in quarantine. The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people in Iceland (domestic and border cases combined) stands at 581.2.

A man in his 70s died of COVID-19 at the Health Care Institution of South Iceland this week. His death was the 35th COVID-related death in Iceland since the pandemic started.

Iceland continues to be dark red on the map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which is updated every Thursday.

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