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Home Health & Fitness Are virus variants responsible for the outbreak of contaminations in France?
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Are virus variants responsible for the outbreak of contaminations in France?

11 strains of Covid-19 have been identified in France as of March 1, 2021 (BlackJack3D / Getty image / STEPHANIE BERLU / RADIO FRANCE)

The specialists had planned it for the month of March and they were not mistaken: the British variant of Covid-19 has become the majority in France. It represents, at the beginning of March, one in two contamination in the country while the epidemic is experiencing an outbreak in several departments. The strong contagiousness of the British variant, announced by many researchers, is also felt by some patients who are struggling to determine how they were infected.

I couldn’t tell you where exactly“, notes Éva, a young 21-year-old apprentice residing in Moselle, currently in solitary confinement as contaminated by the British variant. “Soit in business, or at school“, wonders the young woman who feels so”a lot of misunderstanding, a little injustice too“.

I greatly respect barrier gestures, the two-meter safety distance, and wearing a mask as well.

Health authorities are trying to assess the rise of variants on a daily basis. In Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais), very close to Dunkirk where the British variant represents almost all contamination, two samples are taken during screening operations. An initial antigen test and, if the patient is positive, a PCR test which will then be sent to the laboratory. “In a few hours, the person will know the type of variant that has infected them.“Says Joffrey Milleville of the Red Cross.

For now, in Pas de Calais, only 50% of PCR tests are screened. The objective is “that all laboratories can screen all positive tests“, assure Reynald Lemahieux, departmental director of the Regional Health Agency.

For specialists, it is “very difficult“to assess the link between the sharp rise in contamination in France at the end of February and the spread of variants in the territory, indicated Bruno Coignard, specialist in infectious diseases at Public Health France. “We are currently conducting analyzes to make this link between the incidence that we are measuring and the proportion of variants.”

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“The incidence is the result of many factors. Of course, the proportion of variants can influence it since these variants are more transmissible, as in Dunkirk for example, but prevention and control measures are also reducing it”, explains Bruno Coignard.

In all, 11 strains of Covid-19 are currently present on French territory. Among them, three mutations are particularly scrutinized: the South African, Brazilian and British variants. “The characteristics of contagiousness, virulence, ability to make someone sicker or to escape the immune response make them qualify as ‘variants of interest'”, specifies the specialist in infectious diseases.

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