Iceland was not spared from the Covid-19 pandemic. This island country of 364,000 people with a single main gateway, an international airport that handles 7 million passengers a year, has registered 1,727 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Iceland.
Researchers from the University of Iceland and deCODE Genetics-Amgen, who funded the study, conducted a trial campaign, the results of which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, April 14. Highlighting that young children and women are less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus than adults and men. Data that will continue to be analyzed in France.
The first case of Covid-19 Coronavirus in Iceland was confirmed on February 28 in a person returning from northern Italy, before this region was considered at risk. Icelandic authorities announced on March 19 that any travel outside the country would be considered to present a risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2.
With the approval of the National Bioethics Committee, the researchers tried to quantify the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Iceland, which should allow an evaluation of the effect of the measures taken against Covid-19. In total, 6% of the country’s population has been screened, making it one of the most screened populations in the world.
The campaign was carried out in three phases during which a total of 22,279 people were evaluated. Specific analyzes were carried out from January 31 to March 31 on 9,199 people considered to be at high risk of infection due to suggestive symptoms, a trip to a country considered high risk or because they had been in contact with an infected person.
The virus sequence of 643 individuals and drew up a family tree of the different haplotypes (genetic variants) found. Analysis of the sequence data reveals that the virus haplotypes detected during the first targeted tests were almost entirely from Austria and Italy, introduced into Iceland with people returning from ski vacations.
On the other hand, the cases identified in the most recent directed tests and in the population show that several predominant haplotypes in countries like the United Kingdom had become more common, and that there is now a wide and growing variety of haplotypes present in the population.
This suggests that the virus has entered Iceland from many countries, including those that were later considered low risk. Currently, 291 mutations have been found in the country, without having been identified elsewhere.
One of the uses of the virus sequence is that it tracks additional contacts and infections from confirmed cases. This data, and the fact that most new infections come from people who are already in quarantine, highlight the overall effectiveness of public health efforts to identify and isolate these contacts and further control the spread of the virus.