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New coronavirus variant found in France is undetectable by standard tests
Published on: 2021-03-18
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A new coronavirus variant has been found in the French region of Brittany, the French health ministry said in a statement late Monday, adding that an initial analysis did not show this new variant to be more serious or more transmissible than others.
 

The health ministry said the new variant had been found in a cluster of eight cases in a hospital centre in Lannion, several of which had not been detected by PCR tests.
 

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are used to detect the presence of an antigen rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies.
 

Officials said researchers at the Institut Pasteur were investigating whether genetic modifications had resulted in the new variant being more difficult to detect.
 

“Investigations will take place to determine how this variant reacts to vaccination and to antibodies developed during prior COVID infections,” Brittany’s regional health authority said in a statement.
 

The formation of new variants is a natural process as viruses evolve over time in order to survive. At present, only three variants of the novel coronavirus are considered alarming: the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants.
 

法国发现可逃避核酸检测的变异病毒

法国卫生总局16日宣布,法国布列塔尼大区阿摩尔滨海省拉尼用医院发现一种新的变异新冠病毒。2月22日布列塔尼的一家企业内部发现聚集性感染。3周后,拉尼用医院在这宗集群感染中共确诊患者79名,其中8例携带首次发现的变异新冠病毒。这8名患者虽然有典型的感染症状,但其鼻咽样本核酸测试(PCR检测)结果呈阴性。
 

核酸检测为何无法甄别新毒株,法国流行病学家帕斯卡尔•克雷佩表示,这可能来自两种情况:一种是在上呼吸道未检测到病毒,可能是病毒感染已迅速迁移到肺部,这也意味着其传染性较小;另一种情况令人不安,核酸检测结果为阴性可能意味着该病毒已发生足够的突变以致难以被检测,这将破坏整个接触者跟踪策略。

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