The new alternative to ‘IHU’ for Covid-19: How dangerous is it?

A new strain of coronavirus has been found by the Institute of Infectious Diseases University Hospital (IHU) in Marseille, but has not been classified by the World Health Organization. Find out all there is to know about this alternative.

In the past hours, France is experiencing great concern about the new IHU variant, which has been treated by scientists on an equal footing with circulating in society in many countries, such as Delta and Omicron.

Currently, Argentina has already exceeded 100,000 cases per day, and in this context, the possibility of the accessibility of the IHU variant, scientifically known as B.1.640, is worrisome.

In this sense, it should be noted that the symptoms of the breed that originated in Cameroon have not yet been determined by official investigations. The variant was discovered in France by the Institute of Infectious Diseases University Hospital (IHU) in Marseille, where it has been analyzed since December 2021.

Also, although its seriousness is not known from official sources, the World Health Organization (WHO) has already classified the new variant this Wednesday. Maria Van Kerkhove, infectious disease epidemiologist, technical director for Covid-19 and head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, confirmed on Twitter that the IHU is classified as a “moderated variant”.

Thus, the new variant is still under investigation by scientists and has not been classified as a variant of interest or variant of concern, if the results conclude that it should be placed within either of these two classifications.

According to the official documents of the World Health Organization, if the new strain has not been circulated at levels of importance to global public health, it has been circulating for a long time without any impact on the general epidemiological situation or scientific evidence shows that the variant is not associated with no characteristic of concern, “it will remain a variable It is already moderated and will not be upgraded.

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On the other hand, several experts spoke to The Independent and considered that the detection of the IHU variant alone does not mean that it would be as dangerous as other variants, such as delta or omicron.

“What makes the variant more well-known and dangerous is its ability to reproduce because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus. It remains to be seen which category this new species will fall into,” says Eric Vigel-Ding, a member of the Federation of American Scientists.

Virologist Tom Peacock, from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, confirmed that the IHU had a “good chance of causing problems, but it never materialized”, so far. Plus, he added, “It’s definitely not worth worrying too much about right now.”

Are vaccines effective against the IHU variant?

At the moment, only twelve infections have been identified, and at present, there are no other known cases of the variant, which were first recorded in the GISAID variant tracking database on November 4 in France.

IHU originated in Cameroon, Africa, and has 46 mutations, “which may make it more resistant to currently administered vaccines,” says the analysis. Even a person first identified with the IHU variant had a full Covid-19 vaccination schedule.

Freddie Dawson

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