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IHU variant not a threat yet, spreading slowly: study

IHU variant not a threat yet, spreading slowly: study

The B.1.640.2 variant dubbed 'IHU' of Covid-19 discovered in southern France near the end of November is as of yet, not a threat researchers of a non-oeer reviewed study have claimed. The number of cases were too low for anything conclusive to be established but as of now, the variant looks to be spreading slowly, the researchers said.

The study, yet to be peer-reviewed, has been published on MedRxiv. In it, the researchers said that "it is still early to speculate on the IHU variants as the number of cases is extremely low". The IHU variant was named after the institute of Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, part of France's Instituts hospitalo-universitaires (IHU, or University Hospital Institutes) where it was first discovered.

While the World Health Organisation has classified the variant as "not under investigation", the latest study advises keeping an eye on it, even as Omicron variant cases have begun to top the list of confirmed infections in France and abroad.

A localised spread of the infection was reported in France and attributed to the IHU strain, Vinod Scaria, a scientist of Delhi's Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology, said on Twitter that there is no proof of that. The B.1.640 variant, meanwhile, is not new. According to, it was first detected on January 1, 2021, and 400 infections have been identified till now.

Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding also assured the public that the IHU variant was being tracked. While higher cases of hospitalisation have been noted in the parts of France where the variant was detected, it was probably due to a resurgence of the deadlier Delta strain, other scientists pointed out.

The IHU variant has 46 mutations and 37 deletions in its genetic code, more than Omicron. Many of these affect the spike protein.The variant is a sub-lineage of B.1.640. France reported 258,787 new cases of Covid-19 on January 6 with a a 7 day average crossing 200,000, as the country lurches through yet another wave of the pandemic.

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TAGS:IHU Omicron Study Covid-19 updates France 
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