New Covid variant named ‘IHU’ with 46 mutations worries experts in France
New Covid variant named ‘IHU’ with 46 mutations worries experts in France

While the world is grappling with the outburst of the Omicron virus with a very high transmissibility rate, scientists and experts in France have reportedly identified a new variant of COVID-19 termed ‘IHU’. The new variant is said to be a more mutated strain than Omicron.

According to media reports, nearly 12 cases of this new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and has been linked to the African country Cameroon. But, the Omicron strain is still dominating in most parts of the world.

The B.1.640.2 or IHU variant was first identified by the academics at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection and contains 46 mutations, which is more than Omicron.

This new variant can be a major threat, however, the cases have not been reported so far in countries other than France and is not labelled as ‘variant under investigation’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to a paper posted on medRxiv, the strain carries the E484K mutation which can make it more resistant to vaccines. It also has the N501Y mutation — first seen on the Alpha variant — that experts believe can make it more transmissible.

The scientists say, “these observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad. And they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread.”