The world is still grappling with the highly mutated strain of coronavirus, called Omicron, which has been leading a surge in Covid-19 infection across the globe. And now, scientists in France have identified a new, more mutated strain that Omicron.
Named IHU, the B.1.640.2 variant was discovered by the academics at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection. Researchers say that it contains 46 mutations – even more than Omicron – which makes it more resistant to vaccines and infectious.
At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and has been linked to travel to the African country Cameroon.
However, then Omicron variant is still the dominant strain in most parts of the world. However, IHU variant’s threat is rapidly rising.
The B.1.640.2 has not been spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to a paper posted on medRxiv, the genomes were obtained by next-generation sequencing with Oxford Nanopore Technologies on GridION instruments.
“Fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to create a new Pangolin lineage named B.1.640.2, which is a phylogenetic sister group to the old B.1.640 lineage renamed B.1.640.1,” the research paper said.
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding posted a long Twitter thread in which he said that new variants keep emerging but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. “What makes a variant more well-known and dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus,” he said.
There are scores of new variants discovered all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. What makes a variant more well-known and 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 more past immunity evasive. It remains to be seen in which category this new variant will fall,” the doctor further said.
The Omicron variant was detected in a sample taken from South Africa on November 24 last year. Since then, it has spread to more than 100 countries. In India, it has infected nearly 1,900 people.