Antonio Oliver, head of microbiology at Son Espases. | Govern de les Illes Balears

Antonio Oliver, the head of the microbiology laboratory at Son Espases Hospital, explained on Wednesday that sequencing studies carried out in the last two weeks of March and the first week of April identified cases of new variants in the Balearics. The Brazilian variant was detected in Mallorca and the South African in Ibiza. Of 80 cases taken at random, 59 were of the UK variant and 14 were cases with the E484K mutation that present "some resistance" to vaccines. Other variants were found, but these were "not relevant and were in the minority".

Oliver said that these cases of resistance to anti-virals are of "some concern" but that they were to have been expected, given what has been happening elsewhere in Europe. He added that the percentage by which effectiveness of vaccines against these variants is reduced cannot be determined.

The spokesperson for the regional infectious diseases committee, Javier Arranz, pointed out that those affected with these more resistant variants are asymptomatic or mild cases. They have been treated at home and most have already recovered.

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Of the 14 cases with resistance to anti-virals, Oliver highlighted three of the South Africa variant, one Brazilian variant, one UK as well as others with no name and which are referred to as B-1525 (eight cases) and B-1526 (one case). The eight B-1525 cases were in Mallorca and relate to a sporting and social event. The B-1526 was in Minorca.

Arranz explained that the South African cases were imported and related to travel to Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates. Two of the people are cohabitants. "They are people who are residents who have had to travel for work reasons. The infections have not caused outbreaks or associated cases."

In the case of the Brazilian variant, it was related to an outbreak among nine people and 40 close contacts. It is "under control". It is suspected that the other eight cases in Mallorca are infection from the same variant. "At the moment we don't know. We only have positive PCR results, but the suspicion is that we do."