(Paris) The first case of contamination by a COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom was discovered in France on Friday, when a vaccination campaign against the virus was discovered. .
The existence of this variant has been confirmed in Tours, a French man who usually lives in the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Health, which announced the first case, said the man was asymptomatic and was alone at his home.
He described it as the “first contamination with the VOC 202 012/01 variant of the COVID-19 virus” found in France. This variant appeared in the UK in September and studies suggest it is more contagious.
The man arrived “from London on December 19” and was “taken care of” in hospital two days later and was found to be “positive for coronavirus”.
Doctors, who suspected he was suffering from a variant strain, requested a “sequencing” of the virus carried by the patient from the National Reference Center for Respiratory Infection Viruses. The second confirmed the infection on Friday with the VOC 202 012/01 variant.
“Health officials have identified the contacts of health professionals who care for the patient and his resource persons are at risk, to continue their strict isolation,” it stated.
In addition to this case, the Ministry adds that “to date, the VOC 202 012/01 variant is undergoing several positive models indicating that CNR laboratories are ordering it.”
Like other European countries, France has long feared the presence of the virus on its borders, despite the recapture of part of London and England, and the careful suspension of trans-links. Channel, then the introduction of mandatory examinations for return to France.
In addition, a policy has also been implemented for people returning from South Africa, where “another variant of SARS-CoV-2 is currently actively circulating,” the ministry recalled.
On Monday, Health Minister Oliver Warren agreed that it was “possible” that the variant would already air in France. A similar case was reported in Germany, in a woman who arrived by plane from London, and in Lebanon, in a London passenger.
According to several studies submitted in the UK, the new variant of the coronavirus is more contagious than the original strain. One of them, posted online on Thursday, estimated that the epidemic was “50% to 74%” high and that it would have consequences for the number of deaths and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 in France. Manage.
But nothing has been shown at this stage that this variant will lead to more serious forms.
There is no greater risk of death
First discovered in Great Britain in September, this variant, called VOC 202 012/01, has 22 mutations on its gene. In particular, the spike of the coronavirus, called N501Y, is at the protein level, a point on its surface that allows human cells to penetrate them, thus playing a key role in viral infection.
Researchers at LSHTM (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)), the authors of the study, published on Thursday, said that “new entrants have not yet found any evidence that they are at risk of hospitalization or death in the variant”.
But even in a stable accident, they believe that a “sharp increase” in the number of cases caused by this mutation can have significant consequences on the outcome of the infection.
The good resistance of this variant to the vaccine that has begun to be distributed in the United States and the United Kingdom and is expected worldwide represents a catastrophic example. But in the eyes of scientists this is largely a hypothesis.
“At present, there is no evidence to suggest that this vaccine is not effective against the new variant,” said Emer Cook, director general of the European Medicines Agency, which gives the green light to the developed product. By Pfizer-Bioentech.
The first case will be confirmed in France shortly before the start of the vaccination campaign, which begins Sunday in Sevron (Seine-Saint-Denis) and Dijon with elderly volunteers.