New IHU Covid variant with 46 mutations worries experts in France

While the world is grappling with the highly infectious “variant of concern” Omicron, scientists in France have identified a new covid variant which has 46 mutations.

Named IHU, the new B.1.640.2 variant has so far infected 12 people living in southeastern France. The first case has been linked to a person with a travel history to Cameroon, said the authors in a research paper published on medRxiv last Wednesday.

In the analysis, the authors found “46 mutations” has not been spotted in other countries, nor has it been labelled a variant under investigation by the WHO.

The genomes were obtained by next-generation sequencing. The authors of the paper claimed that the “index-case” was fully-vaccinated and tested positive for the covid test after returning from a three day trip to Cameroon.

“Subsequent detection by qPCR of three mutations in the spike gene to screen for variants, as systematically performed in France in case of SARS-CoV-2 positivity, revealed an atypical combination with L452R-negativity, E484K-positivity, and E484Q-negativity… that did not correspond to the pattern of the Delta variant involved in almost all SARS-CoV-2 infections at that time,” reported News.com.au, citing the paper.

Arguing that the emergence of the new variant emphasised the importance of “genomic surveillance”, the authors said their observations once again showed the “unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants”.

In a long Twitter thread, epidemiologist and a fellow at Federation of American Scientists, Eric Feigl-Ding said: “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.”

“This is when it becomes a “variant of concern” – like Omicron, which is more contagious and more past immunity evasive. It remains to be seen in which category this new variant will fall,” he added.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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