Norwegian the public health authority FHI said on wednesdaythat a new virus variant has been detected in the country.
Director General of FHI Camilla Stoltenberg said, according to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK, that the variant named C36 has previously been found, at least in the Middle East and Egypt.
“This variant knows the bad news. It has a lot of mutations in its spike protein, ”Stoltenberg said.
Helsinki Professor of Zoonotic Virology, University Olli Vapalahti does not find the C36 virus variant very worrying in the light of current data.
The peak protein of the variant has a slightly similar mutation to the delta variant, also called the Indian variant, which may increase infectivity. According to Vapalahti, however, there is no evidence of this yet.
“There are probably a thousand of these different types of lines. There are others, more are coming and they are being followed. Compared to the known rapidly spreading variants, there is no need to worry about this internationally or in Finland. ”
Also a virologist at St. Olav’s Hospital in Norway Andreas Christensen according to NRK, is calm about the variant.
“Trondheim and Steinkjer had a cluster in the spring, but it was managed with the usual testing, isolation, tracing and quarantine strategy, as was the British variant.”
World the WHO has outlined four variants as variants of particular concern, which are also spreading faster.
Alpha, which has also been called the British variant, is by far the most widespread virus variant in Finland with its 6,883 infections.
“Yes, we see the Indian variant, but not in such a way that it has specifically gone around. In the big picture, the increase in the Indian variant is not yet visible, but we are still on our toes with it, ”Vapalahti says.
“The South African variant has started to fade.”
Preliminary British studies suggest that this is a more susceptible variant than the alpha variant, with a higher risk of hospitalization. In Finland, the delta variant caused a rapid spread hospital epidemic In Hämeenlinna. According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), 141 cases had been detected in Finland by Wednesday.
There is also good news. “The South African variant has started to fade. At some point, it was at 20 percent, and it has the ability to evade immunity. That was worrying. ”
C36 variant has not been found exclusively or even most in Norway. In countries where a large number of samples are sequenced, it is possible to detect even rarer variants.
“This kind of‘ slime ’is starting to come at the same time as the original strains, which are not very contagious, have disappeared,” Vapalahti says.
In Finland, too, about ten cases of the C36 variant have been detected.
“We also have individual observations of this in Finland, just under ten cases that have been caught in sequencing.”
According to Vapalahti, the transformation may have originated in the direction of Egypt. According to NRK, it has already been detected in Norway in March. The transformation is therefore not particularly new.
“There are several downlines about the C36. It is a group of different lines with small differences in peak protein. ”
THL: n senior physician Otto Helve told THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health at a weekly press conference on Thursday that little information is yet available on the new transformation.
Helve also stressed that there are several variants.
“There is always a risk that the virus will be able to change as it reproduces. As a result, new variants will emerge.”