Covid-19: What is known so far about IHU?

The Claim: Researchers in France recently detected a new Covid-19 variant, named IHU, which reportedly contains 46 mutations - more than any other coronavirus strain discovered since the virus outbreak.
The Verdict: claim verdict

Researchers in France recently detected a new Covid-19 variant, named IHU, which reportedly contains 46 mutations – more than any other coronavirus strain discovered since the virus outbreak.

The discovery came at a time when the world was still battling Omicron, which was detected in South Africa in November last year.

Officially code-named B.1.640.2, the new variant was detected by the Marseille University Hospital Institute, IHU, is believed to be more contagious than Omicron, which has been the most infectious Covid-19 variant ever detected.

Below is what is known so far about IHU:

Origins of IHU

·         The variant, officially known as B.1.640.2, was first identified in France in November 2021 in a person who had recently returned from a trip to Cameroon.

·         Investigations however have been unable to show any more links with Cameroon, and it is not believed the variant emerged there.

What are the symptoms of the IHU variant?

·         A study into the variant, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, revealed that the first identified case only developed ‘mild’ respiratory symptoms.

Preliminary findings on the variant

·         Initial findings suggest that the strain has a total of 46 mutations, which are more than the 37 that were found on the Omicron variant.

What are the threats posed by the IHU variant?

·         Researchers say it is too early to speculate on how harmful the mutant strain is based on the 12 cases identified so far, the Evening Standard reports.

·         It is not yet a variant of concern identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and initial findings suggest it is unlikely that it will be.

·         In addition, IHU predates the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant variant across the world.

·         According to Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College, “This virus has had a decent chance to cause trouble but never really materialised.”

·         On the other hand American epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding had said: “There are scores of new variants discovered all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous.”

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