IHU Full Form Variant Corona Meaning, About News 2022
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Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 resulting in a resurgence of COVID-19 across the globe, the last thing we needed was another covid variant.
IHU Full Form (New Covid Variant)
However the novel corona virus continues to do what it does best: mutate. And now, French researchers have detected a new COVID-19 variant, probably of Cameroonian origin, which they have temporarily named ‘IHU’.
What is the IHU variant?
The IHU variant has emerged from a lineage named B.1.640.2. It possesses 46 mutations and 37 deletions in it.
According to a peer-reviewed research paper, it has fourteen amino acid substitutions, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions located in the spike protein. And this genotype pattern led to creating a new Pangolin lineage named B.1.640.2, a phylogenetic sister group to the old B.1.640 lineage renamed B.1.640.1.
The IHU variant was found by researchers at the IHU Mediterranean Infection Institute, which is how it got its temporary name. These researchers believe that its mutations make it more infectious and vaccine-resistant than Omicron.
Tests show the strain carries the N501Y mutation — first seen on the Alpha variant — that experts believe can make it more transmissible. It also has the E484K mutation, which could make it more resistant to vaccines.
Where has the IHU variant been detected so far?
So far, 12 cases have been spotted near Marseille, with the first linked to travel to the African country Cameroon.
“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,” said Philippe Colson, from IHU Mediterranee Infection, Marseille, France.
However, “it is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases,” he added.
How was the IHU variant detected?
The first known case of this new variant emerged when a vaccinated adult returned to France from a vacation in Cameroon, Central Africa. He suffered only moderate respiratory symptoms three days after returning.
Philippe Colson noted that his nasopharyngeal sample, taken in mid-November 2021, “showed an uncommon combination that did not correspond to the pattern of the Delta variant involved in almost all SARS-CoV-2 illnesses at the time,” and later to Omicron.
When screened by qPCR, the same combination of mutations was found in respiratory samples collected from seven other SARS-CoV-2-positive patients living in the same geographic area. There were two adults and five youngsters (below 15 years of age) in the group.
French public health officials advised that respiratory samples from the eight patients were sent to the Mediterranean Infection hospital hospital institute for SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing. The results revealed the mutations and deletions and helped the researchers fit this variant under the B.1.640.2 lineage, a phylogenetic sister group to the original B.1.640 lineage, which was renamed B.1.640.1. As per the researchers, there are 25 nucleotide changes and 33 deletions between the two lineages.
“The mutation set and phylogenetic position of the genomes obtained here indicate, based on our previous definition, a new variant we named ‘IHU’,” Colson said.
What does the IHU variant mean for the pandemic?
The emergence of the IHU variant demonstrates the unpredictability of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad and subsequent spread.
“SARS-CoV-2 variations have emerged as a major virological, epidemiological, and clinical concern, especially in terms of the possibility of vaccine-induced immunity being lost. The advent of the novel variation necessitates an increase in SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance,” Colson stated.
How dangerous is the IHU variant? Is it worse than Omicron?
As for whether this variant is worse than Omicron and other variants of concern, epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding took to Twitter to address the issue. He stressed that while new variants keep emerging, they might not necessarily be more dangerous.
The IHU is yet to be detected in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, research on it is set to continue, which will help us understand this variant better.
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