WHO doesn’t deem the IHU variant a “threat” but will keep the variant on their radar. Unfortunately, new COVID-19 variants are detected every week. So many variants pop up, then disappear. Some variants lie quietly, and a few become “variants of concern.” The variant was discovered over a month ago in France but didn’t spread beyond a small number of cases. However, now the new variant is seizing headlines this week.
The IHU variant was named after the university hospital identified – IHU Méditerranée Infection. It is located in southeast France and led by the controversial scientist Dr. Didier Raoult, who made a household name. Social media associate the variant with the homonym “I hate you.”
What We Need to Know About IHU Variant
The variant has 46 mutations, and 36 deletions were discovered in November. The patient had recently returned from Cameroon in central Africa. Eleven more people, who were linked to the patient, were infected with IHU. This all happened in the same week that the first case of the Omicron variant was officially identified in France. And now, Omicron accounts for half of all the new COVID-19 infections in France. As of now, the IHU variant has only been detected in 12 people.
WHO doesn’t see an immediate concern over the variant. On Tuesday, a WHO incident manager told a press briefing in Geneva that it “has been on our radar.” Researchers concluded that it was “too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant.”