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After Omicron, another heavily mutated variant of Covid called IHU detected in France

Photo for representation.

Close on the heels of the fast-spreading Omicron strain of COVID-19 another heavily mutated variant called 'IHU' has been detected in France.

The variant was discovered by academics at the IHU Mediterranee Infection on 10 December.

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on December 29, revealed that IHU has 46 mutations. The variant has been detected in 12 cases so far near Marseille.

"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," the authors said.

Philippe Colson, from IHU Mediterranee Infection, Marseille, France, told IANS that "it is too early to speculate on virological, or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases."

The first patient was a vaccinated adult who had returned to France from a trip to Cameroon, in Central Africa.

As was in the first patient's case, respiratory samples collected from seven other positive patients living in the same geographical area exhibited the same combination of mutations that did not correspond to the pattern of the Delta variant, Colson said, as quoted by IANS.

It is yet to be labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization, which names the COVID variants after Greek letters.