Mutant strains of novel Coronavirus, more contagious but less serious, were identified in France and this could be the reason why Europe is noticing a spike in COVID-19 cases. The chief of a French research hospital has revealed the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 strains to the lawmakers last week.

Head of IHU Méditerranée Infection in Marseilles Didier Raoult, who is a microbiologist, told the French senators that the hospital's infectious disease experts found seven mutations of the virus during an analysis of COVID-19 tests during the summer.

According to him, one strain had entered the country via people, coming from North Africa, after France lifted the lockdown restrictions in June. As reported by The Sunday Times, while the mutation has disappeared now, others have emerged.

Didier Raoult, Directeur de l'IHU Méditerranée Infection
Didier Raoult, Directeur de l'IHU Méditerranée Infection YouTube/ IHU Méditerranée-Infection

Contagious Coronavirus Strains

As per the expert, the newly emerged strains of the novel Coronavirus are "less severe," which indicates that "something is happening with this virus, which makes it different." As per Raoult, the mutations noticed by the French experts are "a rather degraded version of the initial form. At least that is our impression."

But many other scientists have expressed their disagreement with Raoult's claim due to his endorsement of the controversial anti-malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 after the US President Donald Trump touted the drug.

However, the team of experts led by Raoult sorted the new strains from mountains of mass testing that the hospital put in place after France reported the first Coronavirus cases in February this year. Recently, the country has seen an increase in SARS-CoV-2 related ICU admission and deaths. To control the virus to spread further the cities of Nice, Bordeaux and Marseille have imposed new restrictions.

7 Strains in African Country

Pandemic
Representational picture Pixabay

Over 1,000 lineages of this novel virus are in circulation around the world and the researcher identified seven of these in Nigeria. The experts said that each of these lineages represents genome sequences from different countries. As per the researchers, monitoring and tracking down the lineages are very important as they can help to determine how a virus spread through population and communities.

The first one shows the viral sequences from China, as well as global exports including South East Asia, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Europe, and the U.S. The second one represents a viral sequence from the outbreak in Italy, while the third represents a new European lineage and the fourth one shows the sequence from Iceland, Turkey, and the U.K.

There is a fifth lineage that represents sequence from Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Turkey, Egypt, Finland, and England. The sixth one represents viral sequence from the Netherlands and the seventh lineage shows sequences from Turkey, Egypt, Finland, Saudi Arabia, and England.