Abdi Mahmud, a COVID-19 incident manager with the WHO, said Tuesday that the organization has monitored the new variant since November, but it has not spread far enough to raise concern, according to The New York Times.
- “That virus has had a lot of chances to pick up,” he said.
Concern for the new variant — B.1.640.2, also known as the IHU variant — kicked up this week when a traveler from France who recently visited Cameroon tested positive for a COVID-19 variant.
- The variant reportedly has more mutations than the omicron variant with 46 mutations compared to omicron’s 37 mutations, according to Deutsche Welle.
- B.1.640.2 has two noteworthy mutations — N501Y and E484K — which hint at the variant’s ability to evade vaccines, per Deutsche Welle.
However, as I reported for the Deseret News, the variant infected 24 people in a French school in October 2021. At the time, the variant was known as the B.1.X or B.1.640 variant.
- The variant struggled to rise in France since it was competing directly with the delta variant, which infected more people, giving many people immunity to the new French variant.
- Now, the IHU variant is competing with the omicron variant, which has proven more contagious than the delta variant.