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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.




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