Another Covid variant has been discovered in France by French scientists.
The mutant strain has 46 mutations that make it more vaccine-resistant and infectious than the original virus. So far, 12 cases have been discovered near Marseille, with the first being linked to travel to the African country of Cameroon.
According to reports, the strain was discovered on December 10 by academics at the IHU Mediterranee Infection, but it has not spread rapidly since then.
It has not yet been identified in other countries or designated as a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization.
‘We do have several cases of this new variant in the Marseille geographical area,’ said Professor Philippe Colson, who heads up the unit that discovered the strain.
‘We dubbed it “variant IHU.” ‘Two new genomes were recently submitted.’
The variant is known as B.1.640.2 and was discovered in a paper published on medRxiv.
The lineage is genetically distinct from B.1.640, which is thought to have emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September, according to scientists.
The strain has the E484K mutation, which is thought to make it more resistant to vaccines, according to tests. It also carries the N501Y mutation, which was first discovered in the Alpha variant and is thought to make it more transmissible.
It is a distant cousin of Omicron, which scientists believe evolved from an older virus.
‘These observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad,’ the scientists write in their paper.
‘They also demonstrate the difficulty in controlling such introduction and subsequent spread.’