Pasteur Paris Institute: Epidemic in France has a different strain from China

France detected its first case in late January, before other countries in Europe. Photo: AP.
France detected its first case in late January, before other countries in Europe. Photo: AP.

The outbreak of corona virus in France is not caused by a case from China, but by an unknown virus that has spread in the country, according to a study by the Pasteur Paris Institute.

Genetic analysis shows that the most prominent virus strains in Paris are from a virus branch not from China or Italy – the first hot spot in Europe, according to the South China Morning Post.

“The outbreak in France comes from ‘germs’ caused by one or several strains of the same virus group … we can deduce that the virus has been quietly spreading in France since February,” the scientists said. said the study was not approved for publication on last week.

To date, France has had 128,000 infections and 23,000 deaths.

France detected the case in late January, before other countries in Europe, but was able to control it later thanks to rapid contact tracing. However, the virus strain in patients at the first stage of infection is not the same as the virus strain in subsequent patients.

That said, “the quarantine measures taken against the first Covid-19 cases in France seem to have prevented the spread,” the scientists said.

The Pasteur Institute collected samples from more than 90 other patients across France and discovered the virus strains shared the same genetic line. This group of viruses is unique and has only been found in Europe and the Americas so far.

The earliest case carrying the strain from the main branch of France was collected on February 19, on a person who had not previously gone abroad and did not seem to have a history of contact with people who had traveled abroad. They found out

The team was also surprised that some of the virus samples collected later became “genetically older”, which is closer to “ancestors”.

A possible explanation for this, according to them, is that the spread in the community has been taking place in France for a long time without medical authorities’ knowledge. Early patients may have mild or no symptoms.

The team also found three samples from Algeria that are quite similar to those in France, suggesting that people from France may have spread the virus in Algeria.

Benjamin Neuman, professor and chief of biology at Texas A&M University – Texarkana said the strains in France could come from Belgium. Belgium is home to the virus sample that most closely resembles the virus strain recorded in China.

As such, France is the latest country on the growing list of countries and regions to be unable to find a direct link between the disease there and the disease in China.

For example, the common strains in Russia and Australia come from Europe and the US respectively, according to some studies.

But these findings have caused some politicians to object. US President Donald Trump, who wants to divert attention to China, attacked the New York Times because it reported that the virus in the US might have come from Europe, instead of China.

Some leading scientists, including Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, say the virus may have been quietly spreading on people for years, even decades, without causing an outbreak. at a discoverable level, according to the South China Morning Post.

According to them, the virus has well adapted to the human body. Some genes on the virus regulate the “attachment” to human body cells are thought to be similar, even some genes on other highly contagious viruses such as HIV or Ebola.

According to some estimates, the “ancestor” of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the pandemic Covid-19, may have left the species of bats 50-70 years ago. A Oxford University study estimated the first outbreak of this pandemic could have occurred since September 2019.

They found that the common strains spread in China and Asia are “genetically younger” than the common strains in the US.