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France detects new Covid variant “IHU,” believed to be highly transmissible

Stock photo via ECDC

While the world is grappling with new spikes in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, scientists in France have discovered another variant. The newly-discovered variant, called B.1.640.2, was found in 12 patients near Marseille and features 46 mutations, making it vaccine-resistant and contagious.

Also known as “IHU,” the strain was detected by scholars at the IHU Mediterranee Infection on December 10 last year, with the first patient being related to travelling to Cameroon in Central Africa and having been vaccinated.

Lab results show that the N501Y mutation, which was initially detected in the Alpha variation, has been found in the new virus and is thought to make it more transmissible. It could be more vaccine-resistant as scientists also found the E484K mutation in the new IHU variant.

Since it was initially identified in November, it hasn’t posed much of a threat, according to the World Health Organisation.

A WHO incident manager on Covid-19, Abdi Mahamud, told the media at a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday that the variant had been on the radar to monitor.

“That virus had a lot of chances to pick up.”

SOURCE: Time | First Post