Covid-19: 5 big things to know about the new IHU variant
A new variant of coronavirus – named IHU - has been identified by researchers in France amid the rapid spread of the Omicron strain across the globe. The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests that the new virus strain has more mutations than the Omicron variant.
Omicron is still new and a lot of research has been going on across the world to understand its behaviour and capacity to infect. So far, 32 mutations have been identified in Omicron, which is believed to be more resistant to existing vaccines.
But now, this new strain of lineage B.1.640.2 contains 46 mutations.
The IHU was discovered in France on December 10, and since then, the scientists there have been conducting research on it.
Here is a list of things known about the new IHU variant so far:
• Its presence was first detected by experts at the IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille.
• It has been linked to travel to Cameroon, a country in Africa. Omicron was also discovered in southern part of Africa on November 24 and rapidly took the world in its grip.
• At least 12 cases of the new IHU variant were reported near Marseilles in France early in December. They are believed to be linked to the index case who returned from Cameroon. The research began after the discovery of the cluster.
• According to a paper posted on medRxiv, the genomes were obtained by next-generation sequencing with Oxford Nanopore Technologies on GridION instruments. It further said that the mutations have caused 14 amino acid substitutions and 9 amino acid deletions - which are located in the spike protein.
• The B.1.640.2 has not been spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO).