Variants of Covid-19: Should we be afraid of “P.1” from Brazil?

the essential virulent. More aggressive. The Brazilian variant of Covid-19, also known as “P.1”, has been raging in Brazil for several weeks. The country has 300,000 deaths and 13 million cases. What are the risks for France, already plagued by the UK virus strain?

At the end of March, Brazil experienced its deadliest week since the coronavirus epidemic began. The so-called “Amazonian” variant, also called “P.1”, causes chaos there. The country, which makes up only 3% of the world’s population, is nonetheless responsible for nearly 10% of the deaths from Covid-19 on the planet, largely due to the spread of this tribe. If the P.1 variant is responsible for the majority of new infections in Brazil today, it is also present in around twenty countries, including France.

“No Excessive Mortality or Superinfection”

For Jacques Izopet, Head of the Biology Pole and Head of the Virology Department at Toulouse University Hospital, “the symptoms of the Brazilian variant have a priori no particularities” compared to the symptoms of the original Covid-19 virus. P.1, also called “V3” in France, could, however, “be transmitted more easily”.

In order to identify variants, including the Brazilian version, two solutions are now being implemented by the laboratories. The first is to do a screening PCR test. Every positive test looks for key mutations in the virus. The second method is full genome sequencing, which can be used to prepare the virus. ARS Occitanie specifies: “These data correspond to the suspicion of South African (also known as V2) or Brazilian (V3) variants and would therefore not allow confirmation of the existence of the Brazilian variant alone.”

Currently, Jacques Izopet affirms and clarifies: “We are not currently identifying any excessive mortality or superinfection caused by P.1.” Not enough to create a panic wind in other countries where this strain is widespread, particularly France, where the P.1 variant has been around since February 4th. Health Minister Olivier Véran then counted four cases in the country and did not hide his concerns about this more contagious strain than SARS-Cov2.

Vigilance this summer

According to Jacques Izopet, the Brazilian variant now accounts for between 0.5 and 1% of contamination in France and 1% of cases in Western Occitania. In the week of March 22-28, around 100 cases were found in the region, according to ARS Occitanie.

However, the virologist explains that the number of contaminations varies from department to department: Guyana, which shares its border with Brazil, has more than 30% of the cases of contamination with the Brazilian variant of Covid-19. In the Moselle, where almost every third case is a variant, the South African variant in particular is widespread.

Map of the edition of the Brazilian variant in France from 04.05.21 Santé Publique France

And regarding the fears associated with people from Brazil, every passenger from that country is currently required to certify a negative PCR test with a duration of less than 72 hours and a quarantine of 7 days.

Regarding the threat to France, Jacques Izopet also mentions the benefit of vaccination, which “would remain effective even if the Brazilian variant could more easily escape vaccine antibodies”. This tribe from Brazil would definitely have difficulties establishing themselves in France, as the V2 and V3 variants “tend to ebb because they are less contagious,” confirmed Olivier Véran on April 1st on France Inter. “But we have to be vigilant so that they don’t leave this summer,” added the Minister of Health. Jacques Izopet confirms the need for vigilance: “At the moment there are no particular concerns, but we have to be careful.”