France Scientists discover new COVID variant ‘IHU’; dubbed as more infectious than Omicron

As the world is battling to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, French scientists have discovered a new strain ‘IHU’ with 46 mutations.Written by:Anurag RoushanUpdated Jan 4, 2022 2:34 PM

As the world is still battling to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Coronavirus, scientists in France have discovered a new strain that is said to have 46 mutations. According to a research paper released on medRxiv, the new variant is more transmittable and vaccine-resistant than the existing Omicron variant, news agency Sputnik reported. Scientists at the Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) first discovered the new variant, called as B.1.640.2. or ‘variant IHU’, on December 10. They had announced that the new strain was discovered in Forcalquier, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, with reports indicating that majority of the victims were hospitalised. “In the Marseilles geographical area, we have numerous cases of this novel variant. We have named it as IHU variant. Two new genomes had already been submitted,” Professor Philippe Colson, the leader of the department that discovered the new variant stated in the research paper. According to the paper, the first case was a fully vaccinated man who returned from a trip to Cameroon in November. He tested positive for the COVID-19 three days later and developed moderate respiratory symptoms, as per Sputnik. France sets a grim record, clocks 200,000 new COVID cases in 24 hours

WHO yet to investigate the new variant

The new variant has been found to carry the E484K mutation, which is thought to make it more resistant to vaccines, as well as the N501Y mutation, which was first reported in the Alpha variant. The latter variant could make the strain more contagious. The authors of the paper also stated that based on these 12 cases, it was too early to speculate on the virological, epidemiological, or clinical characteristics of this IHU variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to investigate B.1.640.2. and there is no evidence that it has moved beyond France as of now, the news agency reported. 

Source: AP News.

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