French Scientists Detect Yet Another COVID Variant

French Scientists Detect Yet Another COVID Variant

( – Researchers in Marseille have identified a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Like Omicron, this one has mutations that could allow it to spread more rapidly – but so far, it hasn’t.

On December 10, scientists at IHU Mediterranee Infection in the southern French city of Marseilles revealed they discovered a new strain of the Chinese coronavirus. The new variant, which doesn’t have an official name yet, but has been dubbed “IHU” by the scientists, has 46 mutations compared to the original virus. Researchers say these changes could make it both more infectious and more resistant to vaccines. For comparison, the Omicron variant has 60 mutations.

The good news so far is, the new variant doesn’t seem to be spreading. Twelve cases have been identified; the first case is someone who recently traveled from Cameroon in central Africa. No cases have been detected outside France – in fact, none have been found outside the Marseille area. The World Health Organization hasn’t designated it as a variant of concern.

While this variant is theoretically capable of spreading quickly, there are no signs it’s competing with the Omicron strain, which is quickly becoming dominant – over 62% of French COVID cases are now Omicron. New variants will continue to emerge, just like we’re used to with flu. This news from France is a reminder COVID isn’t going away, but so far, it doesn’t look like the new variant changes anything.

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