New 'IHU' Covid variant with 46 mutations discovered in France
The first case is said to have been linked to Cameroon
Another new strain of coronavirus, designated the 'IHU' variant, has been discovered in France and is already said to have at least 46 mutations.
The new IHU variant (B.1.640.2) is thought to have infected 12 people in southeastern France; as reported in multiple outlets, the authors behind a flagship medRxiv research paper claimed that the first person who tested positive for it was fully vaccinated.
The first case is said to be linked to western Africa, as the person in question had recently returned from a three-day trip to Cameroon prior to returning the new, mutated Covid-19 infection.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and fellow at Federation of American Scientists, explained what we know about the new variant and how infectious/dangerous it may be in a lengthy Twitter thread - here is a snippet:
7) 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.
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 3, 2022
The study goes on to reinforce that the detection of "three mutations in the spike gene" did not fit the pattern associated with the Delta variant seen in most contemporary SARS-CoV-2 infections and while it is yet to be confirmed, these mutations do not necessarily mean that the IHU variant will be as highly transmissible as the likes of Omicron.
B.1.640.2 has now been officially identified by the World Health Organisation and further investigation will be carried out, however, the WHO is already downplaying the severity of the situation.
They state that the variant was actually discovered around the same time as its South African counterpart - i.e. in November of 2021 - and that while it has been "on our radar", the strain does not seem to have accelerated to the same extent or displayed any added risk of serious health problems.
Meanwhile, Covid records are continuing to be broken in the UK as the number of daily cases reached their highest ever, with 218,724 infections declared Tuesday, along with 48 more deaths related to the virus.
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