IHU / A new variant of Covid is identified in France

IHU / A new variant of Covid is identified in France

Just when we thought things were getting easier, because the omicron variant, though more sticky, often gets a smoother flow than the delta, a new variant has emerged. We do not yet know how dangerous it is, nor even where it originated.

The new variant was discovered in early December on a passenger returning to France from Cameroon, the IHU Mediterranee hospital in Marseille announced. The returnee from Cameroon reportedly infected 12 people in southern France.

Even more mutations than omicron

This new mutant, called B.1.640.2 or IHU, has 46 mutations in an "atypical combination," according to a preliminary study that has not yet been reviewed by experts.

According to this study, two already known mutations of the yeast proteins N501Y and E484K are also found in the new coronavirus variant. The N501Y mutation, for example, was discovered very early in the alpha variant. It causes the pathogen to bind more strongly to human cells and thus spread more easily throughout the body.

E484K is one of the escape mutations and thus possibly reduces the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

Little is known about the risk and origin

We do not yet know anything about the origin of this new variant. The fact that B.1.640.2 has now been first discovered in a returnee from Cameroon does not mean that the variant has appeared in the Central African country.

However, very low vaccination rates generally favor the emergence of new coronavirus mutations. In Cameroon, only 2.4% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in the United States.

As long as the vaccination campaign is not globally advanced, new variants will continue to be developed. Sometimes they are more harmless, sometimes more dangerous. It remains to be seen how harmful this new variant will be.

* Deutsche Welle article, translated and adapted by