Coronavirus: Indian variant found in Kuwait, health ministry says

The Delta variant was first discovered in India last October

epa09188171 A health worker prepares a shot of COVID-19 vaccine to a woman at field vaccination center in Kuwait City, Kuwait, 09 May 2021. Kuwait Ministry of Health launched on 09 May the second phase of COVID-19 vaccine field units, as it includes providing vaccines to workers in commercial centers in the country.  EPA/NOUFAL IBRAHIM

Kuwait has detected cases of the Indian variant of the coronavirus, officials said on Monday.

The variant, also known as Delta, which was first found in India last October, appears to spread more rapidly than other strains detected since the outbreak began in March 2020.

"Kuwait's health ministry periodically conducts genetic tests for coronavirus to know the type of patterns of mutations that are in the country," said health ministry spokesman, Abdullah Al Sanad.

"The testing would then open up prospects for co-operation with the international community to unify efforts to combat the virus."

He said the Delta mutant had been detected in more than 62 countries.

Kuwait reported 1,512 new Covid-19 cases and three related deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the tally of infections to 327,963 and fatalities to 1,820.

Mr Al Sanad urged all citizens and residents to abide by health measures set to combat the virus.

"The health ministry has taken the initiative to set out a series of precautionary measures, including the existing efforts for genetic planning through specialised technical teams to contain the spread of the virus," he told the state news agency Kuna.

The official also urged all citizens and residents to "ensure they get vaccinated, to wear masks and cover their mouth and nose, to maintain physical distancing and to avoid unsafe gatherings".

Kuwait has administered at least 1,820,000 doses of Covid vaccine. The country last week introduced the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is the fourth approved by the government after Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Kuwait approved this month a new single-dose Covid-19 antibody therapy, which has shown an 85 per cent reduction in hospital admissions among patients in Phase III trials.

Sotrovimab is a lab-made antibody "that mimics the immune system's ability to fight off harmful pathogens" such as the coronavirus, the US Food and Drug Administration said on its website.

This makes Kuwait the second country in the Middle East after the UAE to allow the use of the treatment for mild to moderate coronavirus cases by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology.