Covid: is the Brazilian variant very common in France?

Published by Cécile D. · Published on 14 April 2021 at 10h10 · Updated on 14 April 2021 at 14h32
Brazil and its variants have the international community very worried: this strain of the virus is particularly contagious and dangerous. Even though not very common in France so far, it remains feared.

Brazil has lost control over the epidemic: with 92 variants, thousands of dead, and very useless measures to fight against Covid-19, the country is in turmoil. So much that on April 13, 2021, France has decided to halt flights from and to Brazil until further notice.

P1 – or Brazilian variant – is very contagious (between 40 and 120% more contagious than the initial coronavirus strain), and very deadly. According to Pr. Rémi Salomon – interviewed by L'Obs – “there are reasons to be worried, if it arrives and grows in Europe, it could lead to a fourth wave that could be very deadly”.

As France is dangerously close to 100,000 dead, the government makes everything they can to curb the epidemic, and variants could cost them their efforts.

Brazilian variant-related data in France are yet not alarming: according to Santé Publique France, as of March 16, 2021, P1 was only found in 0.5% of cases. Garches Raymond-Poincaré hospital infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido considers the variant is not likely to dominate in France.

Ironically because another variant has managed to dominate in France, and the Brazilian strain has spread less in the mainland country: “like bacterial competition, there’s competition between variants. The UK variant is one step ahead and seems to protect us from the other variants”, Davido told 20 Minutes. Yet, caution should be exercised, especially in French Guiana, close to Brazil.

What worries the health authorities and the government is variant P1’s ability to quickly spread in the population and potential resistance to vaccines. “There are not enough scientific studies to find out if the three vaccines approved in France are working against the Brazilian variant. This is also the only variant – so far – for which we have no data. If it spreads quickly in France, if it is as deadly as in Brazil, if it causes reinfections in the 20% French who have been sick already, it would be a catastrophic scenario”, Ramyond-Poincaré hospital infectious disease specialist adds.

The health authorities thoroughly control variants P2 and N9 – both spotted in Brazil – as well. Even though they do not seem to have crossed the French borders, they are dangerous enough to be subject to thorough monitoring.

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