It was only a matter of days.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the B.1.617 variant, more commonly known as the Indian variant because of its first occurrence in India, had been detected in more than 1,200 genome sequences in "at least 17 country ”.
This Thursday, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Nouvelle-Aquitaine confirmed the presence of a first case of an “Indian” variant in metropolitan France. It could be detected in Lot-et-Garonne. Until now, several cases had been identified in Guadeloupe or in transit through Paris, such as these students bound for Belgium who formed a cluster after arriving at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport (Val-d ' Oise).
Two days ago, during a visit to the premises of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Île-de-France, the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran assured "that special attention is brought to the appearance of the so-called Indian variant.
As I speak to you (Tuesday afternoon), no case of a variant of Indian origin has been identified in metropolitan France ”.
In an attempt to flush it out if it was present, Olivier Véran announced that “5,000 sequencing (genetic mapping of the virus) are carried out per week, we will soon be at 8,000 to determine whether this or that variant takes up more space on the National territory ".
Reinforcement at borders and several cases in Europe
Monday evening, the Directorate General of Health (DGS) had published a new note addressed to all health professionals about this variant which "could have an impact in terms of immune escape (post-infection and post-vaccination) , although this has not yet been formally demonstrated ”.
In particular, it was requested to intensify PCR tests for suspected persons, but also to respect a strict protocol for arrivals of flights from the most populous country in the world.
"B.1.617 has a higher growth rate than the other variants circulating in India, which suggests greater contagiousness", also assures the WHO, even if it left it in the category of "variants of 'interest' and not 'variants of concern.
India recorded 3,645 new deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, 350 more than the day before: a new record for this country severely hit by a second epidemic wave, according to figures from the Ministry of Health. The country is now deploring 204,832 deaths from the coronavirus, but many experts believe the real toll is much higher. At least 380,000 contaminations have been recorded in the last 24 hours.
In Europe, German health authorities said on Thursday that they had identified several cases of infections with the Indian variant of the coronavirus in the country. About 10% of the passengers and crew of a plane that arrived in Rome on Wednesday evening from India have tested positive for Covid-19, the health official for Lazio, the region encompassing the Italian capital, announced on Thursday. Tests have established that "23 people are positive" even though it is too early to say whether these people have the Indian variant of Covid-19, as sequencing of the virus is still underway. It has also been detected in Switzerland, Greece or Belgium.