Sci/Tech

Scientists Fear Spread of New ‘Finnish’ COVID Strain Undetected by WHO-recommended PCR Tests

As if the current health crisis isn't enough, another mutated COVID strain has emerged.

  • Scientists from Vita Laboratoriot Oy and the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki discovered a new COVID mutation in Finland
  • The new variant was dubbed as “Fin-796H” and is now known as the “Finnish” strain
  • The “Finnish” strain is very different from the other strains from South Africa and the UK
  • Scientists are afraid of the spread of the new strain, given that it is likely to be undetected using WHO-recommended PCR tests
  • No information about its transmission and vaccine-related effects were made available

As surge testing and genomic sequencing rolls out in response to the discovery of newly mutated COVID variants, scientists express fear of the undetected spread of the previously unknown “Finnish” strain.

According to reports, Helsinki-based Vita Laboratories discovered a mutated variant of the coronavirus detected in Finland. The new mutation was dubbed as “Fin-796H” or the “Finnish” strain. Reports also said that the experts do not believe that the previously unknown variant came from Finland, given the low incidence of coronavirus in the Scandinavian country.

In a statement, Vita Laboratoriot Oy announced that the new “Finnish” strain, which they discovered along with the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki, is different from the recently discovered strains from South Africa and the United Kingdom. They also expressed concern about its undetected spread since it is likely to be 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,” the laboratory shared.

Despite the fear expressed by the scientists, some experts, like Ilkka Julkunen, Professor of Virology at the University of Turku, are not concerned about the new strain.

Julkunen shared in an interview that he isn’t worried about the new “Finnish” strain yet because there isn’t enough information about it.

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.”

As of press time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) have recorded a total of 450 cases of new virus variants in Finland. Of these, they listed 427 of the UK variant, 22 of the South African variant, and one of the Brazilian variant.

The Department of Health, on the other hand, “strongly encourage” citizens to partake in the targeted testing and genomic sequencing for the LS8 postcode, whether or not they have symptoms.

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