Professor Szuster-Ciesielska from the Department of Virology and Immunology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, emphasized that mutations are responsible for altered proteins in this version of the coronavirus. – Some of them are also present in other variants of Beta, Gamma Theta and Omicron. It is true that there are two mutations in the IHU that can make it more transmissive (N501Y) and immune escape escape (E484K), she said.
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– The new strain has 46 mutations, which may or may not have an effect of avoiding an immune response or making it infectious – she assessed.
She added that now French specialists emphasize that “there is little evidence that the IHU is replacing the currently dominant variant of the omicron, which accounts for over 60% of cases in France”. “The WHO will decide whether the IHU will be added to the group of variants of interest by naming it a letter of the Greek alphabet,” she stressed.
– However, it is far too early to speculate how the IHU will behave and what the real effectiveness of vaccines will be against it, the more so as France has so far identified only 12 cases of IHU infection – she summed up.
On December 10, 2021, a new coronavirus variant called IHU and deposited in the GISAID network as B.1.640.2 was discovered in patients from the town of Forcalquier in the Alpes de Haute Provence department at the Institute of Infectious Diseases of the University Hospital of Marseille. The arrival of the IHU in France has been linked to travels to the African Cameroon.