French scientists have discovered a new SARS-CoV-2 strain with 46 mutations, and the Omicron strain is still sweeping many countries around the world.
On December 10, 2021, scientists from the IHU Mediterranean (France) Institute of Infectious Diseases discovered the B.1.640.2 strain and named it IHU. However, since its discovery, the strain does not seem to spread new bacteria quickly.
Scientists say that this new strain contains 46 mutations, making it more resistant to vaccines and infections. At least 12 new gene mutation cases have been recorded near Marseille, France, one of which occurred in Cameroon, an African country.
Scientists said that this new bacterial strain is genetically different from B.1.640 that was discovered in Congo in September last year. Tests have shown that the new strain carrying the E484K mutation is considered to be more resistant to the vaccine. In addition, the variant also has the N501Y mutation — which first appeared in the Alpha variant — and experts say this may make the virus more contagious.
At present, Omicron is still the leading product line in most countries around the world. However, the threat of IHU variants is also growing rapidly.
So far, B.1.640.2 has not been found in other countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has not classified the strain as Omicron as “worrying”.
In a published report on this new virus, the scientists said: “These observations once again prove the new SARS-CoV-2 strain and its unpredictability in its emergence from abroad.”
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding said that new bacterial strains continue to appear, but this does not mean that they will become more dangerous. As scientists begin to learn more about how it works, the degree of danger of the new variant will be determined.
In the past two years, people have discovered many SARS-CoV-2 strains with different infectivity and virulence. However, only certain strains are considered more dangerous, deadly, or more infectious.
The Omicron variant was originally discovered in South Africa and has now spread to more than 100 countries around the world. This mutation is interesting because it contains more than 50 mutations, including more than 30 mutant proteins. This structure can affect the ability of the virus to spread or evade immunity.
Scientists around the world are still racing to decipher the Omicron variant. Early studies from South Africa and parts of the world indicate that Omicron seems to be more contagious than earlier SARS-CoV-2 strains and may cause partial loss of immunity.
The data also showed that compared with other strains, Omicron caused milder symptoms. Specifically, according to Hong Kong scientists, Omicron seems to affect more upper respiratory tracts, such as the nasopharynx, but has less effect on the lungs than the Delta variant. This makes people hope that Covid-19 will soon become an endemic disease with mild flu-like symptoms.