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New Variant ‘IHU’ Identified In France, May Have 46 Mutations

New Covid-19 Variant in France: Known as ‘IHU’, the B.1.640.2 variant has been reported by researchers at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection in at least 12 cases, and has been linked to travel to African country Cameroon

New Variant 'IHU' Identified In France, May Have 46 Mutations
New Covid-19 variant: Researchers noted it's too early to say how this variant behaves

New Delhi: As the world grapples with the highly mutated Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, scientists have identified a new strain of the COVID-19 causing virus in Southern France. Known as ‘IHU’, the B.1.640.2 variant has been reported by researchers at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection in at least 12 cases, and has been linked to travel to African country Cameroon. However, the researchers noted that it is too early to speculate on how this variant behaves as far as infection and protection from vaccines is concerned.

Also Read: Covid Curbs: Schools, Cinemas, Gyms Shut In Delhi, Shops In Malls To Operate On Odd-Even Basis

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on December 29, revealed that IHU has 46 mutations and 37 deletions resulting in 30 amino acid substitutions and 12 deletions.

Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins, and both are the building blocks of life.

Fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and nine deletions are located in the spike protein.

Most currently used vaccines are targeted at the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which the virus uses to enter and infect the cells.

N501Y and E484K mutations were earlier also found in Beta, Gamma, Theta and Omicron variants. The authors of the study said,

The mutation set and phylogenetic position of the genomes obtained here indicate based on our previous definition a new variant we named IHU. These data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and of their introduction in a given geographical area from abroad.

The B.1.640.2 has not been identified in other countries so far or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the researchers, the index (first) case was an adult diagnosed positive by RTPCR performed in a laboratory on a nasopharyngeal sample collected in mid-November last year.

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. He tweeted,

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.

Many countries are currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant which was first identified in South Africa and Botswana in November last year.

Since then, the variant of concern has spread to over 100 countries.
In India, a total of 1,892 cases of Omicron variant have been detected across 23 states and Union Territories so far.

Also Read: Omicron Variant Found In 81 Per Cent Of COVID Samples: Delhi Health Minister

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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