France detects new COVID-19 variant 'IHU', more infectious than Omicron: All we know about it

The new variant — B.1.640.2 — which has been detected in 12 patients near Marseille, contains 46 mutations, making it more resistant to vaccines and infectious

FP Staff January 04, 2022 13:23:51 IST
France detects new COVID-19 variant 'IHU', more infectious than Omicron: All we know about it

Pedestrians, some wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, walk in street market, in Paris. AP

Even as the world battles the uptick in COVID-19 cases owing to the Omicron variant, scientists in France have found another variant.

The discovery of the variant, dubbed B.1.640.2, was announced in a paper posted on medRxiv.

Called IHU, as of now, the strain was discovered by academics based at the IHU Mediterranee Infection on 10 December.

Here’s what we know so far of this new COVID-19 variant:

• Researchers say that it contains 46 mutations — even more than Omicron — which makes it more resistant to vaccines and infectious.
• Some 12 cases have been spotted so far near Marseille, with the first linked to travel to the African country Cameroon.
• Tests show the strain carries the N501Y mutation — first seen on the Alpha variant — that experts believe can make it more transmissible
• According to the scientists, it also carries the E484K mutation, which could mean that the IHU variant will be more resistant to vaccines.
• It is yet to be spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization.

Omicron dominant variant

Currently, Omicron is the dominant coronavirus variant in France, joining other European countries like the United Kingdom and Portugal with surging case numbers over the past few days.

France's public health agency had recently said that "62.4 percent of tests showed a profile compatible with the Omicron variant".

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has stoked average daily confirmed cases to more than 160,000 per day over the past week, with peaks above 200,000.

“The tidal wave has indeed arrived, it’s enormous, but we will not give in to panic,” Health Minister Olivier Veran was quoted as telling Parliament.

In an attempt to battle this surge, French MPs have proposed legislation that would require most people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter public spaces such as bars, restaurants and long-distance public transport.

It is expected to come into force on 15 January after passing through the upper house Senate.

News agency AFP reported that the bill’s headline measure is aimed at getting France’s remaining five million unvaccinated people over 12 to accept a shot.

At present a health pass is required to access numerous everyday venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres and long distance train travel – but a recent negative test is accepted for the health pass.

The bill aims to replace the health pass with a vaccine pass – which would only allow people who are fully vaccinated to gain access to those venues.

With inputs from agencies

Read all the Latest News, Trending NewsCricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Updated Date:

also read

Arvind Kejriwal urges PM Modi to stop flights from countries affected by new COVID-19 variant
India

Arvind Kejriwal urges PM Modi to stop flights from countries affected by new COVID-19 variant

Amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron', India has added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival, including post-arrival testing for infection

Explained: Will flight restrictions help as new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' emerges?
World

Explained: Will flight restrictions help as new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' emerges?

Some say at best the restrictions can buy time for new public health measures to be put in place. At worst, they do little to stop the spread and give a false sense of security.

WHO terms new COVID-19 variant as 'Omicron': ‘Variant of concern’ prompts global flight bans, forces WTO to defer meet
World

WHO terms new COVID-19 variant as 'Omicron': ‘Variant of concern’ prompts global flight bans, forces WTO to defer meet

The global health agency said evidence on Omicron showed an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants, indicating that people who contracted COVID-19 and recovered could be more subject to catching it again