New Covid variant 'IHU' detected in France

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Named B.1.640.2, it has infected 12 people

New Delhi: As the world grapples with the highly mutated Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, scientists have identified a new strain of the Covid-19 causing virus in Southern France.

The French researchers, who have detected the variant, probably of Cameroonian origin, have temporarily named it 'IHU'. The new variant from the lineage named B.1.640.2 is believed to have infected 12 people in the country, according to a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study supported by the French government.It has 46 mutations and 37 deletions.

"For twelve SARS-CoV-positive patients living in the same geographical area of southeastern France, qPCR testing that screen for variant-associated mutations showed an atypical combination," said Philippe Colson, from IHU Mediterranee Infection, Marseille, France.

However, "it is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases," Colson said. According to the study, the index case (the first patient) was a vaccinated adult who had returned to France from a trip to Cameroon, in central Africa.

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