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France discovers new COVID-19 variant 'IHU', more infectious than Omicron

At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and now it has been listed in the travel list to the African country Cameroon
 

France discovers new COVID-19 variant 'IHU', more infectious than Omicron - ADT
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Mumbai, First Published Jan 4, 2022, 2:59 PM IST
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Topping the highly mutated strains of coronavirus, Omicron has an addition of a new variant. Scientists in France have now identified a new highly mutated strain than Omicron.  

The IHU, the B.1.640.2, the strain was introduced by the academics at the institute IHU Mediterranee Infection. Researchers claimed that the new variant has 46 mutations, more than Omicron, which makes it more immune to vaccines and infectious.

At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and now it has been listed in the travel list to the African country Cameroon. The Omicron variant remains the most infectious strain across the globe. But, the IHU variant threat is also rising.

The B.1.640.2 has not been recorded under the examination of the WHO or any other countries yet. Following the posted paper on MedRxiv, the genomes were obtained by next-generation sequencing with Oxford Nanopore Technologies on GridION instruments.

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The research paper read, "Fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to the creation of 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".

Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding with a series of tweets explained the new strain keeps emerging but it doesn't mean they would be more harmful. He said, "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 further explained, "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."

Omicron was first detected in a sample from South Africa on November 24 last year. The spread of the variant is the highest and has affected 100 countries across the globe. India has recorded nearly 1,900 Omicron cases till date. 

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