Indian Covid variant reaches Finland

The so-called India Covid variant, B.1.617, has been detected in three positive Covid samples in Finland.

All tests found with the variant are from March, according to officials at a press conference by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Thursday morning.

Every fifth positive Covid sample in Finland is now a variant. The UK variant is the most frequently detected, followed by that first found in South Africa. Only about 20 percent of positive test results are sequenced to determine their exact type.

It is not yet known if the India variant is more infectious or resistant to vaccines, said THL senior physician Otto Helve.

Improvement overall

Overall, the pandemic situation is improving and Finland is making progress in its vaccination rollout.

Eighty-eight percent of over-70-year-olds and 57 percent of over-50-year-olds have received their first vaccine dose. It is estimated that every person belonging to a risk group will have received the first dose by mid-May, and all those over the age of 16 wanting to be vaccinated will receive their first jab by the end of July.

The officials at the press conference encouraged people to celebrate May Day using the same precautionary measures as usual: social distancing, face masks and hand disinfectant. Ministry of Social Affairs and Health director Pasi Pohjola urged people to celebrate this year’s May Day in their own bubbles, to allow for normalcy in summer and beyond.

“If we are able to prevent the spread of the disease and continue on this path, the infection rate in summer will hopefully remain quite low. What we do and how we act now has an impact on the situation in summer,” said Pohjola.

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