How Threatening is The New ‘IHU’ Variant of Coronavirus?


While the globe is mobilizing resources to combat the Omicron form of the coronavirus, scientists have discovered a new strain. The IHU variation, also known as B.1.640.2, was initially discovered in southern France last month and has since attracted the attention of international experts. The version comprises 46 mutations, according to researchers from the Mediterranee Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) in Marseille. As a result, there is concern that IHU will become more resistant to existing vaccinations. Experts, on the other hand, have stated that it is too early to predict its behavior with precision.

IHU was discovered where?

In the Marseille area, at least 12 persons have been identified infected with IHU, with reports claiming that some of them have been hospitalized. Travel to the African country of Cameroon has been linked to the cases.

The first incidence was discovered in an adult from a small hamlet in southeastern France, according to the researchers. In an RT-PCR test performed at a private medical biology laboratory, he was diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2. The individual had experienced moderate respiratory symptoms the day before his or her diagnosis. Respiratory samples taken from seven other COVID-19 positive individuals in the same location later revealed the same mutations.

How is the research coming along?

The IHU scientists discovered the variant on December 10 and have been studying it ever since, attempting to predict and understand its behavior. There have been 46 mutations discovered so far. Their analyses revealed that this strain of SARS-CoV-2 has the N501Y mutation, which was first discovered in the Alpha variety and is thought to make the virus more transmissible. It also has the E484K mutation, which could make the version more resistant to immunizations, according to the researchers.

On December 29, the researchers released a paper online. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed. IHU, on the other hand, has 46 alterations and 37 deletions, according to the report. The findings are “another example of the unpredictability of the formation of SARS-CoV-2 variations, and their introduction into a specific geographical area from overseas,” according to the researchers.

What does the World Health Organization say?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet classified the variant as a variant under investigation because it has not been discovered in other nations.

What are the opinions of specialists on the new variant?

Experts advise caution until additional information regarding this or other earlier variations such as the Omicron becomes available. During a pandemic, new variations emerge, but not all of them are pathogenic or cause severe sickness, according to experts. As a result, it is prudent to wait for more information before drawing any conclusions.

“Numerous new varieties are identified on a regular basis, but this does not necessarily imply that they will be more hazardous. Because of the number of mutations, it has in comparison to the original virus, a variant’s propensity to multiply makes it more well-known and deadly, according to epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding.

Mr. Feigl-Ding stated that he is not concerned about IHU at this time. “I don’t think it’ll beat Omicron [which is 5-6 times quicker than Delta] or Delta [which is 2 times faster than the original].”

The news comes as the world grapples with a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases driven by Omicron, which was initially discovered in South Africa in November. It has since expanded to over a hundred nations, including India. In the previous 24 hours, there have been 37,379 active cases across the country.