A new Covid variant dubbed the 'IHU' variant or B.1.640.2 after it was discovered by researchers at the the Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) in France, and is said to have its origins in Cameroon. It has not been noted by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern yet.
The new variant is said to have 46 mutations in total which is even higher than the highly-mutated Omicron variant.
At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles, and has been linked to travel to the African country Cameroon. However, then Omicron variant is still the dominant strain in most parts of the world. However, IHU variant's threat is rapidly rising. The B.1.640.2 variant has not been spotted in other countries.
"There are scores of new variants discovered all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. What makes a variant more well-known and dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus," said epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding on Twitter.
He also pointed out a worrying trend of rise in ICU admissions around the South of France, in particular the Alpes Côte D'Azure region where infection rates are average but more people have been admitted to hospital in the coming days. Some experts however, have pointed out that the new wave in severe infections is due to a resurgence in the Dekta variant of the virus.
The Omicron variant was detected in a sample taken from South Africa on November 24 last year. Since then, it has spread to more than 100 countries. In India, it has infected nearly 1,900 people.