Corona IHU Variant: This variant, B.1.640, has primarily been detected in France, although it has also been detected in several other countries. There were 46 mutations in the variant, which included some in the spike protein.
On Tuesday, as the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus continues to infect large numbers of people throughout the world, news about another highly mutated variant spread rapidly, raising concerns of a new wave of infections. So far, B.1.640 has mostly been detected in France, although it has been detected in other countries as well. There were 46 mutations in the variant, including some in the spike protein.
Corona IHU is Not a new variant
B.1.640 is not a new variant. At least three months have passed since it was introduced. This sudden discussion arose due to the distribution of a study conducted by researchers from Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, part of France’s Instituts hospitalo-universitaires (IHU or University Hospital Institutes).
Researchers discovered a new variant in November last year among 12 individuals living in the same area of southeastern France, the first of whom had returned from a trip to Cameroon. The variant found in these people was very similar to the one they had found earlier and called Corona IHU.
Researchers mention IHU variant B.1.640, which was first discovered in January last year, according to global databases. In November, the researchers in France discovered one that has been classified as sub-lineage B.1.640.2.
Corona IHU is Not spreading rapidly
At least 400 infections with the B.1.640 variant have been identified so far, according to outbreak.info, a website that tracks the prevalence of variants in genome sequencing databases. At least 19 countries have been affected. Among the roughly 90,000 sequences deposited in global databases from India, only one is from India.
Until now, 287 cases have been confirmed in France, where this variant has been most prevalent. 17 cases have been reported from Germany, and 16 from the United Kingdom. However, Congo is the country where this variant appears to be most prevalent, where 39 of the 454 genome sequences done so far belong to the B.1.640 lineage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified B.1.640 as a variant under monitoring in November, which is an entry-level classification of a variant that is worth monitoring.
Not a concern
Although a large number of significant mutations in this variant has attracted researchers’ attention and raised concerns among the public, the B.1.640 is not spreading at a rate that warrants concern. The spread of this virus is certainly less alarming than Omicron’s. Virus outbreak.info states that the last time this variant was detected was on December 25. There has since been no further detection of this variant in global databases.
“According to the evidence, there is no need to panic at this time. The next few weeks will be crucial,” said Vinod Scaria, a scientist at Delhi’s Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology in a tweet on Tuesday.
In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified B.1.640 as a variant under monitoring, which is an entry-level classification.