The microbiology lab at Son Espases. | Pere Bota

The microbiology service at Son Espases Hospital has detected the first two cases of the Colombian coronavirus variant, VOC B.1.6, in Mallorca. These resulted from sequencing during the last week of April and the first week of May - seventy cases were analysed.

As well as the Colombian variant, 56 cases of the UK variant were detected. This continues to be the dominant strain in the Balearics and accounts for 80% of cases. Of the other sequenced cases, these - with the exception of one variant which is not considered to be relevant - had the E484K mutation. This is believed to reduce the effectiveness of available vaccines.

The two cases of the Colombian variant have this mutation. The others are five cases of the Brazilian variant (P1) - three in Mallorca and two in Ibiza; three cases of the Nigerian variant (B.1.525), all in Mallorca; and three of the New York variant (B.1.526), also all in Mallorca. So far, no cases of the Indian variant have been found in the Balearics.

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Since the start of the pandemic, the Microbial Genomics Unit at the microbiology service has sequenced the genome of over 1,200 cases of Covid in the Balearics. It is one of the centres to have sequenced the most samples in Spain, well above the recommendations of Spain's health ministry and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.