New COVID-19 variant named ‘IHU’ discovered in France — said to be stronger than Omicron

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New COVID-19 variant named ‘IHU’ discovered in France — said to be stronger than Omicron
Representative imagePixabay
  • 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.
  • Nearly 12 cases of this new variant have been reported near Marseilles and has been linked to the African country Cameroon.
  • 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.
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.

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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.”

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Philippe Colson, the head and professor of the department at IHU that discovered the variant, said, “ We indeed have several cases of this new variant in the Marseilles geographical area. We named it 'variant IHU'. Two new genomes have just been submitted."


Renowned Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, on Twitter, said, “The mutations have caused “Fourteen amino acid substitutions, and 9 amino acid deletions—which are located in the spike protein.”

He further added, “ 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.”
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