A new Coronavirus variant called IHU has emerged in France, as the world scuffle with the mutated Omicron variant which was discovered in November 2021 in South Africa and Botswana.
Scientists identified the new strain, B.1.640.2, at the institute IHU Méditerranée Infection in Marseille and noted that it contains 46 mutations, more than Omicron.
France has already reported at least 12 cases of this variant, which has been associated with Cameroun.
This comes days after Israel reported its first case of rare double infection of COVID and Influenza, Flurona.
The new variant is yet to be spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Prof. Philippe Colson, who heads the unit that discovered the strain, said,
“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.”
It comes after French health minister Olivier Veran said that the country expects to see even higher daily counts of new COVID-19 infections.
U.S. epidemiologist and health economist, Eric Feigl-Ding, who rung the bell about the variant, said,
“These observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new #SARSCoV2 variants and they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread.
“However, it does not mean they will be more dangerous. What makes a variant more 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 could evade immunity. It remains to be seen in which category this new variant will fall”.
COVID-19 has killed at least 5,441,446 people globally since the outbreak in December 2019, however, WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.