Many estimations predicted the UK variant will be dominant by March 2021 in France. It is coming true. According to Santé Publique France's latest report, the UK strain dominates in the Paris area more than the historic strain. In Île-de-France, it represents 63.8% of cases reported. Even though the UK variant is sensitive to vaccines already developed and injected, its spread speed is a major issue.
More major data: the Brazilian and South African variants have been found in 4.8% of tests performed in Paris. In the French capital, Covid-19 variants are now found in 87.7% of positive cases, the latest Santé Publique France data suggest.
Detecting the mutation of the virus is no easy task: testing centers need to use machines such as Thermo-Fischer, that can find the mutation of a protein. To confirm the result, they then have to send the sample to national reference centers such as the Institut Pasteur in Paris or Lyon. There, they sequence the sample, a process requiring several days to complete.
The threat of this variant is taken very seriously: from now on, the ARS supervises “contact tracing” operations in the event of contamination with the English virus. The Ile-de-France agency tells Le Parisien “possible or likely cases are now immediately considered as confirmed cases until there is no longer doubt with sequencing”.
To make testing easier, the ARS fitted the 21 centers in Île-de-France with Thermo-Fischer machines. Furthermore, all positive tests found in airports arriving in France are now taken up a notch with Themo-Fischer analysis, in order to find and isolate cases as quickly as possible.