Three notable variants were already detected: known as “British”, “South African” and “Brazilian”, they are joined unsurprisingly by two other “versions” of the coronavirus responsible for covid-19.
In Guadeloupe, where a curfew will be in effect from this Sunday, the British variant is progressing strongly … but not only: a new variant, “local”, has been identified.
In New York, another variant, different, has also been spotted by scientists.
Even reputed to be fairly stable, Sars-CoV-2 – its official scientific name – remains a mutating virus. And the higher its circulation, the more likely it is to mutate.
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However, since last September, the world has recorded between 300 and 900,000 new daily cases every day – a figure that has fallen at the start of the year but which has been rising again in recent weeks.
All the variants are a priori more contagious, like the British. But the main concern is elsewhere: the presence of a mutation called “E484K”, which weakens the immune response, natural or vaccine.
New York: a quarter of the tests already concerned
In New York State, the presence of a new variant is confirmed: it appears in a quarter of positive tests in the state, against only 3% in January.
Observed for the first time in November, only on the island of Manhattan, it has since spread rapidly throughout the northeast of the United States, as detailed by Professor Philippe Amouyel, from the University Hospital of Lille on BFM-TV :
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, explained on Monday that the authorities were taking the emergence of this strain “very seriously”, while acknowledging that “many unknowns remain”.
Again, the Spike (or “S”, or “spike”) protein is concerned. This is the protein that allows the virus to enter human cells to develop there.
With this New York variant, affected patients would be “older” and “more frequently hospitalized”, according to a study from Columbia University. This virus is also, like the first variants, more contagious.
But above all, like the Brazilian and South African variant, it carries the E484K mutation, which makes the virus more “resistant” to vaccines as well as to natural antibodies. What weaken the effectiveness of vaccination, or promote cases of reinfection.
Worse: Another mutation, named S477N, changes the way the virus attaches to human cells, reports another study from Caltech, California.
Professor Antoine Flahault suggests setting up a zero covid strategy, and having “a head start” by setting up a “global system for monitoring the evolution of the virus genome”.
In Guadeloupe, a worrying presence
Twenty weeks of stagnation of the epidemic … then a sudden surge, notes the prefecture of Guadeloupe.
In one week, the number of people hospitalized soared by 20%, with a sharp rise in intensive care and the death of a man under 55 years old. All indicators are red on the island of the Antilles.
So far, the British variant, very present, worried. But there is worse: the health authorities have detected “another variant”. It is still being analyzed to refine its characteristics. But he too would be more contagious and more resistant.
The prefect Alexandre Rochate reinforced health measures and the ARS recalled the importance of barrier gestures.
Faced with this degradation, the prefect announced on Tuesday evening severe restrictions on sanitary measures: in addition to the establishment of a curfew from Sunday March 7, in force from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., sports competitions will take place behind closed doors, without an audience, and “there will be no more possibility of sport in the closed rooms and in the fitness rooms, except for competitions and extracurricular activities”, he insisted.