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New “IHU” Covid Variant Found in France

omicron covid variant france
WHO is telling the world not to worry about another new Covid variant first found in France. Credit: NIAID, CC BY 2.0

Another new Covid variant nicknamed “IHU” was identified in France in November around the same time as Omicron — but the World Health Organization believes it is not a threat.

Abdi Mahamud, a WHO incident manager, said that the variant “has been on our radar” at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday. “That virus had a lot of chances to pick up,” Mahamud added, referring to the other variant’s inability to gain traction compared to Omicron.

The IHU variant was first found in a group of 12 infected people in the Southern Alps roughly contemporaneously to the first Omicron cases in South Africa. Researchers at the IHU Mediterranee Infection, led by Didier Raoult, have studied the variant closely since it was first found in a patient returning from Cameroon.

Raoult and his team published a paper on the medRxiv server late last month describing the IHU variant, which has atypical mutations, similar to Omicron. Despite this, WHO and other scientists have noted that it has failed to reach levels of infection comparable to Omicron.

The team wrote that it’s “too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases.”

WHO has not classified IHU as a “variant of concern.”

Danish epidemiologist says Omicron will lead to a return to normalcy

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus will in effect wipe out all the other mutations of the virus and people across the world will “have our normal lives back in two months,” according to Denmark’s chief epidemiologist.

The much more transmissible mutation of the virus that has swept across the world for two years now will bring about the end of the pandemic, she says, noting the results of a new study in the nation that saw one of the earliest outbreaks of Omicron.

Tyra Grove Krause told interviewers on Danish TV 2 on Monday that the new study, undertaken by Denmark’s State Serum Institute, shows that the risk of becoming hospitalized with Omicron is half that of the Delta variant.

Cases will continue to rise — then sharp drop

Looking at the evidence presented by real-world studies in South Africa, she stated that there will be a sharp rise in cases — but then they will decrease very rapidly.

“I think we will have that in the next two months, and then I hope the infection will start to subside and we get our normal lives back,” she said on Monday, as reported in the Daily Mail.

“Omicron will peak at the end of January, and in February we will see declining infection pressure and a decreasing pressure on the health care system,” Krause stated, cautioning “But we have to make an effort in January, because it will be hard to get through.

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