While the globe is dealing with the extremely infectious Omicron strain of Covid, scientists in France have discovered a new variety with 46 mutations that could be concerning.
According to independent.co.uk, the new B.1.640.2 variety, dubbed IHU, has infected 12 persons in southeastern France.
According to researchers in an article published on medRxiv, the first incidence was related to a person with a travel history to Cameroon, Western Africa.
Experts were quick to point out, however, that just because a new variety had been discovered did not guarantee IHU would be as contagious as previous strains, such as Omicron.
The scientists discovered “46 mutations” in the study that had not been seen in other nations or labeled as a variant under research by the WHO.
Next-generation sequencing was used to obtain the genomes. According to the authors of the study, the person who was identified with the IHU variation was fully vaccinated. After returning from a three-day trip to Cameroon, the person tested positive for covid.
The authors of the research paper said “subsequent detection… of three mutations in the spike gene to screen for variants… did not correspond to the pattern of the Delta variant involved in almost all SARS-CoV-2 infections at that time”.
The scientists argue that the advent of the novel variety highlights the significance of “genomic surveillance,” and that their findings once again demonstrate the “unpredictability of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said the new variety was being monitored to see how infectious or harmful it could be in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“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.”
He added, “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.”