As the world grapples with the highly contagious and mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19, France has alerted the world to a new Coronavirus variant called IHU.
Scientists identified the new strain, B.1.640.2, at the institute IHU Méditerranée Infection in Marseille and say it contains 46 mutations, more than Omicron.
France has already reported at least 12 cases of this variant. The new variant has been associated with Cameroun.
This comes days after Israel reported its first case of rare double infection of Covid-19 and Influenza, Flurona.
The variant is also yet to be spotted in other countries or labeled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Prof. Philippe Colson, who heads the unit that discovered the strain, said: “We indeed have several cases of this new variant in the Marseille geographical area. We named it ‘variant IHU’. Two new genomes have just been submitted.”
U.S. epidemiologist and health economist, Eric Feigl-Ding, who rung the bell about the variant, said: ‘’These observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new #SARSCoV2 variants and they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread.
“However, it does not mean they will be more dangerous. What makes a variant more dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus.
“This is when it becomes a variant of concern like Omicron, which is more contagious and could evade immunity. It remains to be seen in which category this new variant will fall,” he said.
COVID-19 has killed at least 5,441,446 people globally since the outbreak in December 2019 but WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.