Nigerian variant found in Quebec: what you need to know

LThe emergence of the Nigerian variant dates back to December 2020 in this West African country. His presence was confirmed in Quebec in March 2021, but can now be found in at least 41 countries.

Along with a very widespread variant in the UK, as well as a strain from South Africa and Brazil, a strain from Nigeria is one of the variants under close scrutiny by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ).

The organization confirmed its presence at Capitale-Nationale on April 15, when three cases were confirmed. It is also found in other regions of Quebec such as Montreal, Laval and Lanaudiere, as well as Outaouais. To date, 19 cases have been identified relating to the Nigerien strain.

Optimal “cocktail”

Some of the COVID-19 variants are “a source of concern” because of the properties they acquire, explains virology specialist Benoit Barbeau, professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

According to INSPQ, the Nigerian option is an option of interest, not an option of concern like the UK, “because no epidemiological or clinical impact has been demonstrated to date.”

While research is ongoing, it is still being closely monitored for several mutations known to have functional implications in the laboratory, such as making it less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies.

“So far, these mutations appear to be a decisive change in the resistance conferred on the vaccine-induced immune response variants,” explains Mr Barbo.

Faced with each of them’s immune systems and high transmission rates, the virus comes with a “cocktail of changes” that allows it to progress, adds the virology specialist. “The virus wants the best combination to replicate itself. The variants that circulate are optimal because they have the ability to be transmitted and partially resist the immune response. “

Will the rest come?

In short, the more the virus is transmitted, the more variants are created. Benoit Barbeau believes other strains are likely to circulate in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. On the other hand, the majority will achieve changes that are “unfavorable” for them and disappear. Therefore, they do not represent more concern for human health.

“We hear about those who rank the most, those who are most competitive,” he explains.

It is for this reason that only a few specific options are currently under intense scrutiny by INSPQ and elsewhere in the world “because of the significant implications they could have on the development of the COVID pandemic. -nineteen”.

Research shows that unlike other options currently in circulation, the following four are associated with “an increased risk of contagion, virulence, or even abandonment of vaccines or treatments for COVID-19.”

In Quebec, more than 20,000 cases of variants are identified by screening, tests that detect the presence of variants. Sequencing, which identifies the exact origin of a variant, for its part has classified 2,744 variant cases to date, with a prevalence in the United Kingdom.

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