Move over Omicron, 'IHU' is the new Covid-19 variant with '46 mutations' detected in France
Paris, Jan 04: While the world continues to battle with Omicron variant of COVID-19, a new strain, dubbed as 'B. 1.640.2' or 'variant IHU', has emerged in Southern France, and scientists have expressed concern over its high number of mutations.
The new strain has reportedly infected 12 patients in the same area, and their tests have since revealed "an atypical combination".
The first patient had recently returned from a tip to Cameroon, suggesting to experts that it may have originated in the African country, as reported by the Daily Express.
The strain has been discovered by the researchers at The Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) but is not yet under investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
US epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding is one of a growing number of experts outside of France to raise the alarm over the new variant. Taking to Twitter, he wrote,"The mutations have caused "Fourteen amino acid substitutions, and 9 amino acid deletions-which are located in the spike protein."
🔔NEW VARIANT—French scientists have “rung the bell” after discovering a cluster 12 cases of a variant of “atypical combination” with **46 mutations & 37 deletions** in southern France after index case returned from Cameroon🇨🇲—dubbed #B16402.🧵 #COVID19 https://t.co/SHXCbnkQUr pic.twitter.com/UwdL2hSW5g— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 3, 2022
''While there are frequently new strains of the virus discovered, they rarely become as prominent as well-known variants such as Delta and Omicron.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, like Omicron,''he further added.
In the new preprint paper, dated December 29, scientists said: "SARS-CoV-2 variants have become a major virological, epidemiological and clinical concern, particularly with regard to the risk of escape from vaccine-induced immunity."
"14 amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to create a new Pangolin lineage named B.1.640.2, which is a phylogenetic sister group to the old B.1.640 lineage renamed B.1.640.1. Both lineages differ by 25 nucleotide substitutions and 33 deletions."
"The mutation set and phylogenetic position of the genomes obtained here indicate based on our previous definition a new variant we named 'IHU'. These data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and of their introduction in a given geographical area from abroad," it added.