Covid: UK, Brazilian, Indian variants… Take a stock on the situation

Published by Cécile D. · Published on 26 April 2021 at 11h42
Now predominating in France, Covid-19 variants are strongly concerning all local and international health authorities. UK, Brazilian, South African, Japanese, variants seem to develop everywhere, in different forms. Dangers, vaccination, specificities, take a stock on all the virus strains circulating in France.

In December 2020 after a year of confusion and horror faced with an unknown virus that spread all over the world, a new threat rose. As the country was just starting to understand and overcome Covid-19, variants have been gamechanger. Variants have been predominating since March 2021. Most cases are caused by mutating strains.

These variants are a major source of concerns for doctors and public authorities. More deadly, more contagious, more resistant to vaccines: they reassess coronavirus fight strategies.

Several variants are currently spreading in France. Let us take a stock on the different strains and the danger they represent.

UK variant

This form of the virus is the most common in France and Europe. According to the current estimations, it represents 82% of the cases. More contagious (one sick contaminated about 35 more people than other forms), it seems to be responsive to vaccines, good news for us. Unlike what we used to think, the UK variant does not lead to more severe disease or extended symptoms of the virus.

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According to two new studied released on Monday April 12 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the Covid UK variant is not likely to lead to more severe virus, but confirms it is more transmissible. The two studies go contrary to another publication issued on March 10, 2021, in the British Medical Journal, the UK variant is said to be 64% more deadly than classic Covid. [Read more]

South-African variant

It is the second most common variant in France at the moment. It seems to have mutated more than the UK variant and manages to bypass the immunity of people who have been infected by the virus already. It does not show more severe or different symptoms than classic Covid-19 but it resists to vaccines more. It is also more contagious.

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Pfizer covid vaccine is said to be less effective against the South African variant... This is at least what an Israeli study found on the matter, stating this strain is likely to "break through" the vaccine. The study shifts focus of the results from the previous study carried out by the American laboratory, explaining their vaccine was working for at least six months against all variants, and especially the South African strain. [Read more]

Breton variant

Recently discovered, the Breton variant is little-known because of how rare it is. Yet, it scares caregivers a lot: this variant is barely detectable with nasopharyngeal tests – the main weapon to detect Covid-19. Doctors are faced with patients showing many symptoms of the disease, while all testing negative. Seven patients in thirteen infected by this variant have died.

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Nicknamed “Breton variant”, a new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus mutation has been found in Brittany, as reported this March 15, 2021 by Health General Management. Since then, authorities have decided to list this new variant in the “to be surveilled” category. [Read more]

Indian variant

This is the new variant concerning all specialists for days. This strain reportedly shows a double mutation of the virus and seems extremely contagious. No direct contamination has been reported in France so far. It yet represents a serious threat: classic screening tests cannot detect it; it is therefore necessary to sequence the sample to find it in someone. According to some analyses, this variant has a mutation enabling to reinfect people immunized. This variant is therefore likely to resist to vaccines.

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As many scientists are thoroughly monitoring the Brazilian variant, others have their eyes set on the Indian variant. Nicknamed “double mutant”, this strain is suspected of being behind a new surge of the Covid-19 epidemic in India. Should this Indian variant be feared? What is known exactly about it? Keep reading to find out more. [Read more]

Brazilian variant

Still quite rare in France, the Brazilian variant is extremely contagious and very resistant to vaccines. The French authorities have been thoroughly monitoring it, because the arrival of the variant in mainland France could lead to a massive wave of contaminations. This variant also seems far more dangerous in young people who were – so far – more or less spared by severe infections.

For your information, there is not one but several Brazilian variants. The most common strains are called P1 and P2, but the health authorities have reported almost a hundred.

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With each passing day, the Brazilian variant makes experts and authorities more and more worried. In their latest report released this April 18, 2021, the French Scientific Committee states “the Brazilian variant might increase in the summer 2021” in France. [Read more]

California variant

Only a few cases of this variant have been detected in France. It seems more contagious than classic Covid-19, and more deadly, according to a study carried out by searchers from San Francisco. Furthermore, scientists have discovered this variant could lead to reinfections: antibodies developed by patients who caught classic coronavirus do not recognize the variant and cannot block it.

No information is available on the efficacy of vaccines on the variant.

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Covid variants keep on surging… After the UK, South African, and Brazilian variant, a new strain from California has been found in France, in Bas-Rhin. A mutation found in the country thanks to a series of sequencing. [Read more]

Japanese variant

Discovered this winter, this variant led Japan to quarantine to study this new form of the virus. According to a few studies, the Japanese variant could turn out to be the Brazilian variant. As a matter of fact, this strain may have arrived in Japan with travelers from Brazil. The strain studied seemed very similar to the one found in South America, even though no one can tell how similar both viruses are.

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As people grow hopeful thanks to vaccines, a new coronavirus variant has been found in the world. This new strain of the virus has been found in Japan in several people coming from Brazil. The country is working on isolating the new strain of the virus to analyze it. Here is more on the matter. [Read more]

Here is the current heath situation. A situation likely to evolve very quickly. After variants, searchers discovered recombinants: mutations of coronavirus caused by two parental viruses. In other words, a recombinant could be the child from the fusion of two viruses. A common but not reassuring phenomenon.

In a British study released in March 2021, searchers explain “recombination is a frequent and well documented feature of the molecular evolution of coronaviruses. […] Recombination likely occurs in every infected individual, but in almost all cases recombination will be between nearly identical genomes (descendants of the small pool of viruses that established the infection)”.

Scientists have already discovered about fifteen variants and they think others might break out in the coming months. Although recombinants have no direct effects on the epidemic, mixing properties of two virus could cause a tricky “cocktail”.

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