New Covid variant in Finland ‘might not show up in tests and could fuel spread’

A new Covid strain that doesn't show up in tests has been found in Finland, researchers say.

The Fin-796H variant could have a "significant impact" on calculating the virus's spread, the Sun reports.

Helsinki-based Vita Laboratories confirmed it was different from the South Africa and the United Kingdom variants.

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

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

The lab added it’s unlikely the variant emerged in Finland, given the country’s low rate of coronavirus infection.

It said the new strain’s “inheritance has the same features as the previously widespread variants in the world, but it does not appear to belong to the lineage of any of the previously known variants”.

It comes as health bosses today said a new Covid variant has been detected in the UK with 38 confirmed cases identified.

Thirty-six cases of B.1.525 are spread across England with the remaining two cases in Wales.

Experts in the UK have said that the South African variant may also not show up in tests.

It makes it much harder to track how many cases of the strain there truly are, scientists say.

Ilkka Julkunen, Professor of Virology at the University of Turku, said the emergence of the variant wasn't a major concern yet.

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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.”

A study in the United States suggests the South Africa strain may make the Pfizer vaccine two-thirds less effective.

Meanwhile in the UK official reports revealed a new a Covid strain has acquired a mutation similar to the South African variant – and could resist vaccines.

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Public Health England detected 11 cases in Bristol where the Kent variant has mutated to “escape” immune response.

Laboratory studies have shown that antibodies are less able to bind to a part of the virus known as the spike protein, in order to stop it from unlocking human cells to gain entry.

Boris Johnson revealed the variant – traced to an outbreak in Kent last September – was found to be 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain.

There is no evidence to suggest it is more deadly. It is understood that the current vaccines could still offer protection from the variant.

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