New COVID Variant "IHU" has been Found in France | What to Know

New COVID variant ‘IHU’ has been found in France

/ 10:13 AM January 05, 2022

Though everyone is still dealing with the surging cases of the Omicron variant, here comes another threat, the IHU COVID-19 variant. It is a new strain discovered by French scientists. Whether it’s something the world needs to worry about, one thing’s certain – it has 46 mutations.

The new B.1.640.2 variant was named IHU. The newly discovered Covid variant was named after the team who discovered it. A group of scientists from the Mediterranean Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) in Marseilles, France is the primary source of information about the new Covid variant.

Though the IHU variant’s discovery was just last month, global experts are concerned and looking to study it further. They are fearing the new Covid variant’s reaction to the vaccines. If IHU is hesitant or not. Though experts say it’s too early to predict the certainty of its characteristics.

There are 12 reported cases of the IHU variant in France. Some of them were in the hospital due to sickness. Most of the cases have been connected to travel from Cameroon, an African country. The first case of IHU was an adult from Southeastern France. He took an RT-PCR test with a Covid positive result.

Before his diagnosis, he has mild respiratory illness. Following this, samples from seven other patients with COVID-19 positive results showed the same kind of mutations. They all came from the same area.

What You Need to Know About IHU COVID-19 Variant

While the IHU variant is still undergoing further research and observations, experts are studying its behavior. Here’s what they’ve found so far:

  • This SARS-CoV-2 strain carries an N501Y mutation. This is also the same mutation of the Alpha variant. Thus making the experts conclude it can be more contagious.
  • Researchers also found that it contains an E484K mutation. This type of mutation is more resistant to vaccines.
  • Aside from 46 nucleotide substitutions, IHU has 37 deletions. The experts said the data shows how unpredictable the COVID-19 variants are.
  • Moreover, there was no confirmation yet if the IHU variant is similar to the Omicron and the Delta variants.
  • WHO hasn’t declared this variant as a point of concern as it’s still under investigation.

The experts are advising us to stay cautious as this IHU variant still seems unknown. According to them, new variants keep on emerging whenever there’s a pandemic. However, not all of them can cause severe sickness.

The pre-print of the IHU study mentioned, “It is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on just 12 cases.”

In addition, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding said, “There are scores of new variants discovery all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. What makes the variant more dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has to the original virus.”

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