Detected first in South Africa, then now in Belgium, the variant of Covid-19 Omicron "has not been detected on French territory," said Public Health France (SPF), this Friday, in a press release dedicated to this new variant.
Due to their geographical proximity to the countries of southern Africa, case surveillance "is already reinforced in Reunion and Mayotte", reveals the French health agency.
The Omicron variant, so baptized by the WHO, "presents 32 mutations, insertions or deletions of the Spike protein including in particular the N501Y mutation which has been associated with the increase in the transmissibility of the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants", recalls Health public France.
"Other mutations could have an impact on the efficiency of the immune response", also specifies the health agency, noting "mutations little detected so far".
"The potential effects of each of these mutations, but also their combined effect, are under investigation," reports SPF.
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To detect the variant in France, the health authorities count in particular "the systematic screening of positive tests", "allowing reactive surveillance", but also on the "complete sequencing of the viral genome" for certain tests in the context of studies and surveys. .
A "high to very high" risk of the virus spreading
In a risk assessment report, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that “the general level of risk for the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) associated with the Omicron variant of SARS- CoV-2 is considered high to very high ”. ECDC calls on countries to "be proactive and implement precautionary measures to save time until we gain more knowledge", which includes vaccinating unvaccinated people and opening up doses to everyone. reminder.
While many countries have closed their borders to countries in southern Africa to deal with this variant of Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the Omicron variant as "of concern".
"Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant" compared to others that exist, already classified as of concern, explained the WHO.
It will take “several weeks” to understand the level of transmissibility and virulence of the new variant, his spokesperson stressed earlier today.
In France, according to an epidemiological point published on Thursday, more than 99% of positive cases were from the hypercontagious Delta variant.