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IHU Variant: How dangerous is the new Covid strain compared to Omicron and where is it spreading?

Scientists are still investigating new varieties COVID-19First discovered in France Last year to determine if it could be one of the “concerns” as well as the following stocks delta When Omicron I have it before that.

But, according to expert analysis so far, you don’t have to worry too much at this point.

Informally named IHU – In honor of a group of researchers at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, the new B.1.640.2 variant has so far infected 12 people living in southeastern France.

Professor François Barrow, a geneticist at University College London, said it is currently unrelated to the surge in cases and hospitalizations in France.

Where did IHU come from?

The first case of IHU was related to someone who recently traveled Cameroon, West Africa, on a three-day trip, a group of scientists said in a paper about their findings published on the Health Sciences website. medRxiv..

Currently, there are no known cases of IHU variants, except for 12 infections. It was first recorded in the variant tracking database GISAID on November 4, and occurred in the region where it was discovered, France, or any other country.

In their analysis, the author described it as “probably a new variety of Cameroonian origin,” but it is not yet clear where the IHU actually occurred.

What is unique about it?

While new Covid strains are constantly being discovered, experts say that this particular strain has 46 mutations that can make it more resistant to the vaccines currently being administered. He said he raised his eyebrows for the sake of.

The authors added that no mutations were found in other countries and that the person initially identified as IHU was completely vaccinated against Covid.

Studies that have not yet been peer-reviewed have also revealed that the new variant of the peplomer has 14 amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions.

Most of the vaccines used worldwide target the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein (the virus that causes Covid), and mutations in both N501Y and E484K are coronavirus beta, gamma, and theta. , Was previously discovered in a variant of Omicron.

“These data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of Sars-CoV-2 mutants and their introduction into specific geographic regions from abroad,” studying new mutants. Said a scientist.

They said, “Subsequent detection … detection of three mutations in the spike gene to screen for mutations … did not correspond to almost all patterns of delta mutations involved in Sars-CoV-2 infection at the time.” Added.

They emphasized the importance of “genome surveillance” in the fight against Covid.

What do scientists say about it?

Experts are working hard to see if IHU could be a “variant of concern,” but one epidemiologist said the discovery alone was not as dangerous as other strains. increase.

“What makes the mutants more famous and dangerous is their ability to multiply due to the high number of mutations associated with the original virus,” said Eric Fagledin, a Fellow of the Federation of American Scientists. I have been saying for a long time. Last week’s Twitter thread.

“We still don’t know which category this new variant will fall into.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization (WHO) infectious disease epidemiologist, tweeted about this variant yesterday, saying it was marked by WHO as a “supervised variant” in the same month.

This classification indicates that genetic changes suspected of affecting the properties of the virus and may pose future risks, but evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological effects is currently unknown. Means that it was defined as.

Meanwhile, Tom Peacock, a virologist at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, said the variant “may cause problems, but it didn’t happen.”

He added:

The latest discoveries of variants occur in the wake of Omicron’s surge in incidents around the world. At least 24 NHS trusts in the UK declaring a serious incident To address the “unprecedented” staff shortage caused by Covid-related illnesses.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson He and his cabinet are now warned that stricter measures may need to be taken if necessary. “Plan B is working”..

IHU Variant: How dangerous is the new Covid strain compared to Omicron and where is it spreading?

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