New IHU Variant More Infectious Than Omicron Discovered In France


The world currently Facing Omicron Variant, a new ‘IHU’ variant has been reported from France, with 12 persons testing positive for the new variant.

Even as cases of Omicron, a Covid-19 “variant of concern”  identified first in South Africa multiply quickly around the globe, another new Covid-19 variant is being reported from France which is believed to be much more infectious than Omicron. Scientists have named the new variant “IHU”.

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What is ‘IHU’ Corona Variant?

IHU or B.1.640.2  is reportedly a new Covid-19 variant discovered in France by researchers at the Institute IHU Mederranee Infection. According to reports, researchers have claimed that the new variant has 46 more mutations than Omicron, which had already spread like wildfire around the world. The findings, published in a paper, state, “Fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to creating 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”.

IHU variant

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The researchers further wrote, “These data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and of their introduction in a given geographical area from abroad.”

First IHU Variant Discovered and its Spread

The IHU variant has been reported just in France and not spotted in any other country or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO). It was first discovered in mid-November and is linked to travel to Cameroon in Africa.

Is the IHU Variant Spreading Rapidly?

Till now, only a dozen cases have been reported in France. No other country has detected any new cases of the new variant. And it’s not clear if B.1.640.2 is stronger or spreads faster than the other previously known strains of coronavirus. According to a pre-print paper published in MedRxiv, it is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant.

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What Does The WHO say?

Since the variant is not yet detected in other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to label it a variant under investigation.

IHU variant

Recommended Actions For People

The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.  

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