New Covid-19 variant IHU appears in France, with 46 mutations
Scientists have discovered a new strain of the COVID-19-causing virus in Southern France, while the globe grapples with the highly modified Omicron variety of SARS-CoV-2.
The B.1.640.2 variation, officially known as ‘IHU,’ has been reported in at least 12 cases by researchers at the institute IHU Mediterranee Infection, and has been related to travel to the African country of Cameroon.
However, the researchers cautioned that it is too soon to hypothesise on how this variation behaves in terms of infection and vaccine protection.
IHU includes 46 mutations and 37 deletions, resulting in 30 amino acid changes and 12 deletions, according to the study, which was published on the public repository MedRxiv on December 29.
Amino acids are the building blocks of life, and proteins are made up of amino acids.
The spike protein contains fourteen amino acid changes and nine deletions, including N501Y and E484K.
The majority of existing vaccines target SARS-spike CoV-2’s protein, which the virus utilises to enter and infect cells.
Previously, N501Y and E484K mutations have been discovered in Beta, Gamma, Theta, and Omicron variations.
“Based on our earlier definition, the mutation set and phylogenetic position of the genomes acquired here indicate a novel variant we designated IHU,” the study’s authors wrote.
“These findings demonstrate the unpredictability of SARS-CoV-2 variants’ emergence and entry into a specific geographical area from overseas,” they noted.
So yet, the B.1.640.2 has not been detected in other nations, nor has the World Health Organization designated it as a variety under research (WHO).
The index (first) case, according to the researchers, was an adult who was diagnosed positive by RTPCR on a nasopharyngeal sample collected in mid-November last year.
In a lengthy Twitter discussion, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding stated that new variations continue to emerge, but this does not necessarily indicate they will be more hazardous.
On Tuesday, Feigl-Ding tweeted, “What makes a variant more well-known and deadly is its ability to reproduce due to the number of mutations it has in respect to the original virus.”
“This is when it turns into a “variant of concern,” such as Omicron, which is more infectious and immune-evasive. It’s unclear which category this new variety will belong into “he stated
The Omicron form, which was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana in November last year, is causing a surge in COVID-19 cases in many nations.
Since then, the fear has spread to more than 100 countries.
In India, a total of 1,892 cases of Omicron variant have been detected across 23 states and Union Territories so far.