- The new variant was discovered before Omicron was discovered and has not spread widely, with experts saying it is not yet a major concern.
- The new version was named B.1.640.2, but scientists have named it “IHU”.
- Researchers said the passenger was an adult man previously vaccinated against COVID-19, who had recently returned from Cameroon, and was tested in mid-November 2021 after developing mild respiratory symptoms.
A new COVID-19 variant made news in November after a French traveler who returned from Africa tested positive, according to a study that has yet to be reviewed.
Researchers said the passenger was an adult man previously vaccinated against COVID-19 who had recently returned from Cameroon. He was tested in mid-November 2021 after developing mild respiratory symptoms.
The new version was named B.1.640.2, but scientists have named it “IHU”.
While the type had been detected before from Omicron, the study was only made public this month, drawing new attention to IHU.
Robert G. Lahita, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Diseases at St. Joseph’s Health and author of “Immunity Strong,” said researchers look at RNA [ribonucleic acid] To explore new variants.
“Every COVID variant has a unique RNA signature, which we can see when doing a PCR test, for example,” he told Healthline.
“When we see a different signature that is different from what we have previously documented – Delta, Omicron, etc. – we know it is a different and newer version of the COVID virus,” he continued.
Researchers say IHU has 46 mutations, significantly more than Omicron, that could make it more infectious and resistant to vaccine protection.
Roughly 12 cases of the new variant have been identified so far near Marseilles, France.
The strain has the N501Y mutation, which experts suspect may make it more transmissible.
According to Lahita, the number of mutations “speaks” to how much the virus differs from the original version.
“This is important because it alters the stereochemistry (structure) of the spike protein,” he said. “The effectiveness of the immune system depends on recognizing the structure of the virus to create an immune response.”
Experts insist that IHU was identified before this The highly contagious Omron variant.
“For those interested, the first upload of B.1.640.2 to GISAID was on 4 November 2021 from Paris by Roquebert, et al,” posted Tom Peacock, PhD, a virologist at Imperial College, London social media,
He pointed out that the data about Omicron was first published about 3 weeks later, on November 22.
Abdi Mahmoud, Incident Manager of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Incident Management Support Team, said during a recent press conference that the B.1.640.2 variant had “great potential to pick up” over the past 2 months.
He added that the WHO is conducting such surveillance, but stressed that they do not yet see cause for concern.
Lahita said the newly identified variants should not be a cause for panic, and it is important to wait for more details.
“It’s important to wait and see the clinical results,” he said. “Will it be severe on people like Delta, or will it be more mild like Omicron? Will it spread rapidly, slowly, or not at all? How effective is the virus on vaccinated people? Not vaccinated?”
He explained that only after we have that information will we be able to determine whether a new version is “cause for concern”.
When asked about the possibility that we will see another version like Delta as the pandemic continues, Lahita replied that there is no way to know.
“Viruses can mutate up or down,” Lahita said. “Although omicron is an up mutation, it is clinically less severe than alpha or delta. But another type can be mutated and just as bad, or worse, than delta — they all behave differently. And there’s no way to predict the course.”
According to Lahita, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and stay healthy.
“Get your exercise, stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake, and get enough quality sleep each night,” he said. “For now, you don’t have to be mad until [IHU] Versions, or future forms, become important.”
A new variant called IHU was identified in France last November. The World Health Organization says the virus has had ample opportunity to spread and has not yet.
Experts say that not every new version is cause for alarm and that we should wait for more information before getting worried.
They also say that the best way to protect yourself during a pandemic is to get vaccinated, get boosters, and make healthy lifestyle changes.