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Covid-19: Dr Hilary discusses the impact of omicron on the NHS

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Towards the end of 2021, the emergence of the Omicron variant escalated the Covid pandemic in many countries around the world. However, shortly after it began to spread, another new variant of the virus was detected for the first time in the south of France. To date, little is known about the IHU strain, however, a pre-published research paper, which observed the variant, was made public shortly before the end of 2021. Here’s everything we know so far.

In November, the IHU variant – also recognised as B.1.640.2 – was officially identified for the first time in Marseille, buy cheap luvox online us southern France.

Unlike other variants of Covid, its name is not derived from the Greek alphabet – such as the Delta or Omicron strains.

Instead, researchers based at the IHU Mediterranee hospital in Marseille labelled it accordingly to match the location it was discovered.

The first person found to have been infected with the IHU variant was a vaccinated man who had recently returned from a trip to Cameroon.

However, investigations have shown there is currently no evidence to suggest the strain originated from the African country.

In total, 12 people have so far been identified as carrying the variant – including five children and seven adults, according to researchers.

These cases were all contained within the same region of southern France.

On December 29 last year, a pre-published study of the IHU strain was made public.

As of yet, the paper has not been peer-reviewed, but its findings suggest IHU has 46 mutations, which is nine more than Omicron’s 37.

The research also found two already-known spike protein mutations – N501Y and E484K – are also in the IHU strain.

Detected in the Alpha variant, the N501Y mutation can cause Covid to bind better to human cells.

The researchers stressed: “It is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases.

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“Overall, these observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad, and they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread.”

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) downplayed concerns over the variant.

Abdi Mahamud, a WHO incident manager on Covid, told a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, last Tuesday that it “has been on our radar”.

However, he also noted that to this point, it had not posed much of a threat.

Consequently, it has not been deemed a ‘variant of concern’.

The WHO have currently placed five variants within this group, including the Alpha, Delta and Omicron strains.

On Thursday, the UK recorded a further 179,756 cases of Covid, taking the total since the pandemic began to more than 14 million cases.

An additional 231 deaths were also reported within the British Isles.

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