• Linked to Cameroun
WHILE the world is still grappling with the highly mutated and infectious Omicron variant of COVID-19, France has alerted the world to the emergence of another variant, the IHU.
The new variant, technically referred to as the B.1.640.2, was unearthed at the institute IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, hence the acronym IHU.
“We indeed have several cases of this new variant in the Marseille geographical area. We named it ‘variant IHU’. Two new genomes have just been submitted,” head of the unit that discovered the variant, Prof. Philippe Colson, announced.
Discovered days Israel announced its first case of rare double infection of COVID and Influenza, Flurona, at least 12 cases of the IHU variant believed to have 46 mutations, far more than the Omicron, is linked to Cameron. Unlike the Omicron, IHU is yet to be reported in any other country just S it has not been labeled by the World Health Organization, WHO, as a variant of concern.
The IHU, according to the discovery team, has certain remarkable features. One of them is that it comes with the N501Y mutation, one of the major features of the Alpha variant. This, according to experts, makes te variant more transmissible.
Secondly, the variant also has the E484K mutation, a factor that predispose it to being more vaccine resistant. However, WHO has not been labelled it a variant under investigation. Reports from the global health agency indicate that IHU was first detected in November assuring however, that the variant has been on their radar since then without adding that it raises any need for concern.
However, virologists are discussing the emergence of the new variant with the conclusion that nothing yet indicates that it is moredangerous that other variants so far identified.
“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,” Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding noted on Twitter.