IHU Variant Of Covid-19:
Even as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to infect people in large numbers across the world, news about the emergence of another highly-mutated variant spread rapidly on January 4, 2022, raising fears of yet another wave of infections.
- This variant, B.1.640, has been found mostly in France so far, although it has also been detected in several other countries.
- The variant was reported to have 46 mutations, including some in the spike protein.
- The B.1.640 variant is not new. It has been around for at least three months.
- The sudden discussion around it was triggered by the circulation of a week-old study by researchers from Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, part of France’s Instituts hospitalo-universitaires (IHU, or University Hospital Institutes).
- The study reports the detection of a new variant in November last year among 12 people living in the same geographical area of southeastern France, the first of which had returned from a trip to Cameroon.
- The IHU variant that the researchers mention is B.1.640 which, according to global databases, was first discovered way back in January last year. The one that the French researchers found among people in November has now been classified as a sub-lineage B.1.640.2.
- While the large number of significant mutations in this variant has attracted the interest of researchers, and raised concerns among the public, the B.1.640 is not spreading at a rate that is unnerving. It is certainly not as alarming as the spread of Omicron.