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Is Brazil variant on rampage in France? Doctors warn Covid strain ‘spreads very quickly’
April 13, 2021
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France has recorded more than 200,000 new cases of Covid in the last seven days, as President Emmanuel Macron orders a third national lockdown. Experts have now warned the more infectious Brazilian variant threatens to run rampant across the continent.
France entered into lockdown earlier this month, after a surge in coronavirus cases.
All schools and non-essential shops were ordered to shut for four weeks, with a 7pm curfew for the public.
President Macron had hoped not to enforce a new lockdown, but his hand was forced after a big jump in Covid hospital patients.
But now France may face a battle against the more contagious Brazilian variant, which has been spotted in the country already.
“We see that this variant is widespread, even though a certain number of the population has already been affected (by COVID-19),” said infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido on BFMTV.
“So we see that it has a capacity for reinfection – which is not necessarily the case with the other variants.”
Right now, the prevalence of the Brazilian strain in France is very low, however.
A very small proportion of the country’s daily new Covid cases are caused by the variant of concern, known as P1.
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Head of the National Reference Center for Respiratory Viruses in Lyon, Bruno Lina, said: “Today, the Brazilian variant is almost non-existent, around 0.5 percent, according to our latest Flash survey. The South African [variant] is a little above five percent.”
But, despite the relatively low numbers, the Brazilian strain could pose a much greater threat in the near future.
It’s believed to be more contagious than the current Covid strains, which means its prevalence could suddenly increase.
Rémi Salomon, representative of the doctors of the Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, added: “The Brazilian [variant] is now very well established in South America, in Chile, but that’s it. We can also see that it is coming back.
“There are nearly 800 cases in British Columbia, Canada, and it has arrived in the United States – in Massachusetts and in Florida.
“The lesson to be learned is that it can spread very quickly, including in Europe.”
The experts also warned that the Brazilian variant may not have the same reaction to vaccines.
Some scientists have claimed that the Covid vaccines don’t have as long-lasting protection against the variants of concern.
Lina said: “What really sets it apart from the British variant is its immune escape capacity.
“Clearly, while we know that the vaccination works very well on the UK variant, we see a loss of protection with the Brazilian and South African variants.”
More research is needed to confirm the Covid vaccine’s effectiveness on the Brazilian variant.