Brittany variant: New hard-to-detect Covid mutation found as cases in France soar

France: Brittany variant of coronavirus discussed by experts

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A hospital in Brittany admitted 79 coronavirus cases on Saturday but eight of those cases did not appear positive when a PCR test was performed. Further investigation revealed new variants which are now being researched by French scientists. While it remains early days, researchers have been unable to determine the severity of the new variant which they believe is difficult to detect using current testing methods. 

Stephane Milliez, Director of Brittany Regional Health Authority, explained that there was no concern so far but hospitals are now currently looking into the new variant. 

He said: “It is not a variant that at this point is classified as worrying. 

“The worrying variants are V1, V2 and V3, the UK variant, the South Africa variant and Brazilian variant.”

Analysis says the new variant is not more transferable but it is too early to tell yet. 

However, scientists are concerned that the new variant is harder to detect using PCR test. 

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Gilles Pialoux, Head of Infectious Diseases at a Paris hospital, added: “It’s considered a variant to investigate, it’s not in the same level as the South African variant. We need more information. 

“We need information to know if it’s more transmissible but it’s complicated because there are few cases.”

France had resisted calls for a new lockdown as daily cases reach over 20,000. 

Hospitals in Paris have resorted to airlifting patients to rural medical facilities as their ICU wards reach capacity.

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Hospitals are also beginning to use trains to transport a larger number of patients to the eastern regions of France. 

It comes as the neighbouring country has paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca jab citing concerns over its side effects and fatal blood clotting. 

They join major countries like Germany and Italy who have suspended the rollout. 

The decisions, made unilaterally, have been slammed by the European Medicines Agency who insist the vaccinations are safe to use. 

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Emmanuel Macron has also been criticised for fueling vaccine hesitancy among the French population due to his questioning of the efficacy of the AZ jab. 

The French president said that the AstraZeneca jab was “quasi-ineffective” for those aged 65. 

Concerns over the AZ jabs have echoed across Europe will millions of doses sitting in storage in Germany who refuse to take it. 

The Pfizer and Moderna jab are still in circulation in Europe despite medical experts stating the blood clot risks are nearly the same when compared to AstraZeneca. 

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