Covid new strain: How deadly is the Finnish coronavirus variant?

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Covid new strain: How deadly is the Finnish coronavirus variant?

A new strain of COVID-19 has been discovered by researchers in Finland. Only one case of the virus — temporarily named Fin-796H - has been detected

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A new strain of COVID-19 has been discovered by researchers in Finland. Only one case of the virus — temporarily named Fin-796H – has been detected so far, but scientists are hesitant as they do not yet know how far it could have spread.

The new variant is thought to share some of the mutations seen in the Kent and South African strains, according to researchers.

However, they believe that the combination is unique, therefore not making it the same strain.

The discovery was made by Helsinki-based Vita Laboratories.

In a statement scientists who discovered the strain said: “Vita Laboratoriot Oy and the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki have detected a previously unknown variant of the coronavirus in a sample from southern Finland.

“Mutations in this variant make it difficult to detect in at least one of the WHO-recommended PCR tests.

“This discovery could have a significant impact on determining the spread of the disease.”

How deadly is the Finnish variant?

Ilkka Julkunen, Professor of Virology at the University of Turku, told local paper Yle that the discovery was not yet considered a major concern.

He said: “I would not be hugely worried yet, because we do not have clear information that this new strain would be more easily transmitted or that it would affect the immune protection brought about by already having had the virus or having received a vaccination.”

There is no evidence as of yet to suggest that the Finnish variant is more deadly than other variants.

Scientists believe it’s unlikely that the variant originated in Finland due to its low number of cases.

So far the Scandinavian country has recorded only 51,000 cases and 700 deaths since early in 2020.

Meanwhile, extra surge testing has been ordered in England following the discovery of the South African variant of COVID-19 in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

People in the LS8 postcode, including parts of Harehills and the area just north of Easterly Road where the variant was found, are being “strongly encouraged” to take a test when offered, whether or not they have symptoms.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “Extra testing is being introduced in addition to existing extensive testing and, in combination with following the current lockdown rules and remembering Hands Face Space advice, will help to monitor and suppress the spread of the virus. Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help understand COVID-19 variants and their spread within these areas.

“People living within this targeted area are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

“People with symptoms should book a test in the usual way and those without symptoms should visit their local authority website for more information.”

The UK has now vaccinated more than 15 million people with at least one round of a coronavirus jab.



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