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New COVID Variant 'IHU' Found In France, More Infectious Than Omicron: All You Need To Know

Researchers at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute discovered the B.1.640.2 variant, which is known as IHU. It is believed to contain 46 mutations - even more, than Omicron - making it resistant to vaccines and more infectious.

New COVID Variant 'IHU': Everything You Need To Know

At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and it has been linked to travel to the African country Cameroon. US epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding is one of a growing number of experts outside of France to raise the alarm over the new variant [1].

According to him, new variants are continually being detected, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be more dangerous.

"There are scores of new variants discovered all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. What makes a variant more well-known and dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus," Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding posted on Twitter.

  • There has not been any reporting of this new variant in countries other than France. It has not been classified as a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) [2].
  • According to a paper posted on medRxiv, the strain carries the E484K mutation, which may make it more resistant to vaccines [3].
  • Additionally, it carries the N501Y mutation, first identified in the Alpha variant, which experts believe may contribute to its transmission potential [4].
  • The scientists state that these findings demonstrate the unpredictable nature of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their spread from abroad.
  • Furthermore, they demonstrate how difficult it is to control such introductions and subsequent spreads.

"Fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and nine deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to creating a new Pangolin lineage named B.1.640.2, which is a phylogenetic sister group to the old B.1.640 lineage renamed B.1.640.1," the research paper said [5].

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