Denmark to test all positive Covid-19 swabs for infectious variants

Denmark to test all positive Covid-19 swabs for infectious variants
A Covid-19 test centre in Copenhagen. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark is to begin testing all Covid-19 swabs for variants including the more infectious B117 form first detected in the United Kingdom.

A new testing method will check swabs for variants which authorities want to monitor, broadcaster DR reports. That means testing for the B117 variant, the more infectious form of Covid-19 first detected in the UK last month.

Authorities in Denmark are concerned that the variant, which is spreading in the country, will cause a new spike in cases in coming weeks.

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Testing for the variant means the national infectious agency, SSI, will have a better idea of its prevalence.

For individuals who test positive for Covid-19, isolation requirements are the same regardless of which variant is detected. So far, there is no evidence that the variant results in more severe illness than other variants.

The new method is to be used at test centres nationally from Wednesday.

Positive Covid-19 PCR tests will be sent for further analysis using a so-called Delta-PCR test, according to DR. That test will show whether a mutated form of Covid-19 is present within 12-24 hours. If this is the case, the sample will then be tested again to ascertain which variant is at play.

Experts told DR that it was now necessary to monitor the extent to which the B117 variant is spreading throughout Denmark.

Testing for the B117 variant “can be used in an intensified contact tracing,” Anne-Marie Vangsted, director of Testcenter Danmark which operates the country’s Covid-19 testing, told DR.

A variant first detected in Romania and coronavirus from minks will also be screened for using the new method.

Authorities remain particularly concerned with the B117 variant, however. Experts in the UK have estimated the variant to be between 50 and 74 percent more infectious than previous forms.

Denmark’s national infectious disease agency SSI has said it expects the variant to have outcompeted others and become the dominant form in Denmark by the middle of February.

“We must monitor this variant very intensively so we know how the epidemic with this variant is progressing, because it acts much more contagiously than the ones we already know,” Allan Randrup Thomsen, a professor in experimental virology at the University of Copenhagen, told DR.

Better knowledge of the variant will also give improved basis for deciding whether to introduce even tighter restrictions on society than the national lockdown which is currently in place, the broadcaster writes.


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