Indian variant of Covid-19: five questions about this new threat in France

The Basics While the epidemic appears to be out of control in India, three cases of the Indian variant have been identified in France. La Dépêche gives you details on the known information about this “double mutant”.

Five cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 have been discovered in France, including two in Lot-et-Garonne, the French health authorities confirmed on Friday April 30th. This new threat from India, so far undiscovered in France, raises many questions to which La Dépêche answers.

Where and when did the Indian virus appear?

The “Indian” variant, also known as “B.1.617”, was first discovered on October 5, 2020 near Nagpur, a city in central India. “It took a long time to understand that we were in the presence of a real variant. We had confirmation in December and today it is spreading very quickly and we are finding it in more and more samples,” says geneticist Rakesh Mishra. The director of the Hyderabad-based Center for Molecular and Cell Biology (CCMB) told the world.

Why is it called “double mutant”?

The Indian variant is called the “double mutation” because it has two known mutations of the “spike” protein: the 452 and 484. “In two lines circulating in the United States, the 452 mutation would cause a slight increase in transmissibility The 484 mutation is the one that can be seen in the Brazilian and South African variants. It would be largely responsible for immune escape and the partial effectiveness of vaccines, “explains Bruno Lina, virologist at CHU de Lyon, to our colleagues at La Croix.

Is he responsible for the outbreak in India?

If the Indian variant is undoubtedly more contagious than the other strains of the virus, the real influence of this variant on the epidemic outbreak experienced by India is being questioned by the authorities, the emergence of this variant coinciding with “a very unfavorable epidemic” to public health France.

“It is likely that this deterioration in health is due, at least in large part, to the many large gatherings that have recently taken place across the country and the low acceptance of preventive measures by the general population,” the agency recalls. French plumbing. In fact, many religious festivals have taken place in the country in recent months, such as the Holi Festival, where Indians spray themselves with colored pigments to celebrate the spring equinox, or the Kumbh Mela Festival, where hundreds of thousands of people bathe in the Ganges . It should also be noted that national and local elections have also favored the mixing of the population in the country.

How is the situation in India?

India, which is breaking new mortality thresholds every day, appears to be facing an out of control situation. With a population of 1.3 billion, the country breaks world records for contamination with nearly 380,000 new cases per day. In April alone, India had more than six million additional cases. Hospitals that are overwhelmed have no beds, no medication, and no oxygen.

However, the announced international aid has started. The first deliveries of American medical aid arrived in India on Friday. A military plane carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, equipment for hospitals and a million tests for the coronavirus landed at the international airport in the capital New Delhi.

Where was it discovered in France and in Europe?

The variant B.1.617 was discovered in “at least 17 countries”, announced the World Health Organization (WHO) overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. Most of the samples “come from India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore,” the WHO said in its weekly report on the pandemic. In the last few days the variant has also been reported in several European countries (Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Italy).

On Friday April 30th, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Health Authority held a press conference confirming the presence of three people who tested positive for the Indian variant in the region. You are a man living in Bordeaux and a couple from the Villeneuve-sur-Lot region. The latter are in their thirties and parents of a young child. At the end of March, before the reinforcement measures at the borders, they stayed in India and returned to France through stops in other European countries. On April 9, the young woman tested positive during a screening to return abroad.

“Two other cases were found in the Bouches-du-Rhône,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Thursday.

Also read: Indian variant: three cases in New Aquitaine, two in Bouches-du-Rhône

What measures have been taken to contain this?

Last week, government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that India would be added to the list of countries affected by “drastic” border restrictions: Brazil, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Travelers from these states must undergo a mandatory quarantine of ten days.

France would consider suspending all flights from India, according to BFMTV.

The five people infected and discovered in France were all isolated.

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