New 'Finnish' mutant Covid strain discovered that might not show up in tests fuelling its spread, experts warn

A NEW Covid strain has been found in Finland that doesn’t show up in tests and could be fuelling its spread, experts have said.

According to new research, the Fin-796H variant is different from all of the previously found strains in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

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The discovery was made by Helsinki-based Vita Laboratories who say it’s unlikely the variant emerged in Finland, given the country’s low rate of coronavirus infection.

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

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

Referring to the South African and UK strains, the lab 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”.

Ilkka Julkunen, Professor of Virology at the University of Turku, told Yle the emergence of the variant was as yet not a major concern.

"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,” he said.

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.

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 was found to be 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain.

But there is no evidence to suggest it is more deadly and until now, it was understood that the current vaccines could still offer protection.

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