Experts urge to step up vaccination after South African variant found in Lithuania

  • 2021-03-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Experts stress the importance of stepping up vaccination and keeping protective measures in place after the South African coronavirus variant found in Lithuania.

"We don’t need to think this variant will dominate, if we eliminate contacts locally: these are only individual cases and they are individual cases in many countries," Professor Kestutis Petrikonis form the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, told a press conference on Tuesday.

Mindaugas Stankunas, another professor from the same university, says information about this variant's vaccine resistance and infectiousness is raising concern.

Nevertheless, Petrikonis says that although vaccines' efficacy against this variant differs, besides it also depends on an individual person's reaction, vaccines are an effective and one of the key measures available against this other virus variants.

"We need to move fast forward with the existing measures available to us as they are effective – maybe the degree of efficacy is a bit lower. In any cases, vaccines also protects from this variant as well, and they most important thing is that they protects against the now dominant variants," he underlined.

"We need to vaccinate now and we need to protect ourselves. These are the key principles," the member of the council of health experts advising the president.

Some scientists say the South African variant is not that sensitive to COVID-19 vaccines.

Cases of the UK coronavirus variant were found in Lithuania earlier. This variant is more infectious and causes more deaths.

The South African coronavirus strain was detected last week in the samples taken in the counties of Vilnius and Kaunas, the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory (NPHSL) reported earlier on Tuesday.

The two cases were not related and they had been confirmed at Vilnius University Santaros Clinics' laboratory during genome sequencing testing, the laboratory said.