Explained: What is the new 'IHU' variant discovered in France?

WION Web Team
Paris Published: Jan 05, 2022, 11:24 AM(IST)

At least 12 cases of the 'IHU' variant were discovered in France Photograph:( AFP )

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Although researchers are still hard at work on the B.1.640.2 variant also called "IHU", reports claim it has been detected among twelve people in the Marseilles region in France.

As France grapples with a record number of COVID-19 cases, authorities said they had discovered a new variant named B.1.640.2.

The new variant is tentatively called IHU. It was discovered by academics at the IHU Mediterranee Infection institute in France.

What is the new  B.1.640.2 variant?

Although researchers are still hard at work, reports claim it has been detected among twelve people in the Marseilles region in France.

Also Read: New coronavirus variant called 'IHU' discovered in France

The new variant reportedly contains 46 mutations which is more than Omicron. The first case was reported from a person who had come from the African country of Cameroon. The patient was reportedly vaccinated later.

The "IHU" variant reportedly shows strain carrying the N501Y mutation which existed in the  Alpha variant. Scientists believe the new strain also carries E484K mutation making it vaccine-resistant.

Watch: Biden calls Pfizer COVID-19 pill a 'gamechanger'

What is WHO's view?

WHO's Abdi Mahamud said the new variant was on the "radar" of the UN health body since it was first identified in November.

The new variant was reportedly identified around the same time as Omicron. Abdi Mahamud said the "virus had a lot of chances to pick up."

Also Read: Not sustainable to vaccinate the planet every 6 months, says Oxford vaccine co-creator

WHO said the new variant is under investigation but it has not been identified as a threat as yet by the health body.

COVID-19 wave in France

On Tuesday, France had reported 270,000 COVID-19 cases as health minister Olivier Veran warned that daily coronavirus cases could hit 300,000 shortly. 

The French government has declared it will block unvaccinated people from several venues although the country had unveiled COVID-19 health passes allowing only vaccinated people to enter restaurants and cinema halls. 

The new legislation proposes to remove the option of showing a "negative" test in health passes cutting off people who haven't been vaccinated from boarding trains including other restrictions.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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