France discovers new Covid-19 variant 'IHU', more infectious than Omicron
The IHU variation has been related to travel with Cameroon, according to the researchers
The world is still battling with Omicron, a highly modified coronavirus strain that has been causing a worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 infection. Now, French scientists have discovered a new, more altered form of Omicron.
The B.1.640.2 variant was found by scholars at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute. According to researchers, it has 46 mutations, which makes it more resistant to immunizations and infectious than Omicron.
At least 12 instances of the new type have been discovered near Marseilles, with travel to the African country of Cameroon being related.
In most regions of the world, however, the Omicron form remains the dominant strain. The threat posed by IHU variants, on the other hand, is fast increasing.
The B.1.640.2 has not been found in other nations, and the World Health Organization has not classified it as a variety under research (WHO).
The genomes were retrieved using next-generation sequencing with Oxford Nanopore Technologies on GridION devices, according to a paper published on medRxiv.
"Fourteen 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," the research paper said.
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding posted a long Twitter thread in which he said that new variants keep emerging 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," he said.
"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," the doctor further said.
The Omicron variation was discovered in a South African sample taken on November 24 of last year. It has since expanded to over a hundred countries. It has infected nearly 1,900 people in India.