A new variant of the coronavirus has appeared in Brittany, France, which cannot be detected by PCR. The first tests said the variant was neither more severe nor more contagious than the original virus, the French health ministry said Tuesday.
The Brittany regional authority announced on Monday night that several patients in an epidemic had been identified who were producing symptoms of the coronavirus but had tested negative for PCR.
The epidemic is at Lannion Hospital, where the new variant has been identified in eight of the 79 coronavirus infections treated on Saturday.
The ministry mentions in a statement that “several patients had typical symptoms of coronavirus infection” who tested negative for PCR and the diagnosis could only be made by serological examination or a so-called RT-PCR test based on deeper airway sampling.
The regional competent authorities have therefore developed a new procedure for health workers in the regions of Cotes-d’Armor and Finistere in the region of Brittany to better diagnose those infected.
“As a precaution, prefectures and regional health directorates are strengthening measures to curb the spread of the virus, such as speeding up vaccinations, emphasizing the importance of health standards, and further restricting gatherings,” the regional authority indicated.
Pending further studies to determine how the variant responds to coronavirus vaccination and the presence of antibodies, the Breton variant has been placed in a category that includes thousands of mutants that have appeared in the world to date.