The researcher at the National Health Institute Ricardo Jorge (INSA) said that this new strain is under study and has not yet been classified as a variant of interest or concern by international authorities, namely the World Health Organization.

"It emerged in South Africa and is thought to be associated with the high rate of positivity that is now reported in that country", with some "sporadic cases" in neighbouring countries, namely Botswana, said João Paulo Gomes.

"We continue to carry out continuous surveillance of the variants and to date we have never identified any cases of infection associated with this strain," he assured.

According to the microbiologist, it is a strain that worries the scientific community, because it is characterised by the simultaneous presence of "an abnormal number of mutations in the protein of interest, the Spike protein".

He stressed, however, that it is not because of the simultaneous presence of these relevant mutations that makes it “more transmissible or associated with vaccine failures”.

“We have to give it time. It's a cause for concern of course, but it's not a cause for total alarm,” he considered.

"It is important that countries monitor it, be attentive and ready and we will see to what extent it has some undesirable impact," he added.