Paris (France) | Jagran News Desk: While the world continues to battle the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a new strain, dubbed as 'B. 1.640.2' or 'variant IHU', has been reportedly detected in France. The strain has been discovered by the researchers at The Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) but is not yet under investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The study was supported by the French government under the Investments for the Future program managed by the National Agency for Research (ANR). However, it is yet to published in any journal.

In the study, the researchers claimed that the new variant has links with Cameroon. It said that the "index case" was a fully-vaccinated man who returned to France from Cameroon in November last year. It warned that the new strain has "46 mutations and 37 deletions resulting in 30 amino acid substitutions and 12 deletions."

"For twelve SARS-CoV-positive patients living in the same geographical area of southeastern France, qPCR testing that screen for variant-associated mutations showed an atypical combination," the paper claimed.

"14 amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are located in the spike protein. This genotype pattern led to create a new Pangolin lineage named B.1.640.2, which is a phylogenetic sister group to the old B.1.640 lineage renamed B.1.640.1. Both lineages differ by 25 nucleotide substitutions and 33 deletions."

"The mutation set and phylogenetic position of the genomes obtained here indicate based on our previous definition a new variant we named 'IHU'. These data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and of their introduction in a given geographical area from abroad," it added.

This comes at a time when the world is still busy fighting the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Last month, record COVID-19 cases were detected in several countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, the United States and many nations in Europe.

However, studies have suggested Omicron is less deadly than some previous variants. But the sheer number of people testing positive could overwhelm hospitals in some countries and leave e businesses struggling to carry on without workers who government officials have ordered to quarantine.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma