Mutation Coronavirus Covid-19

A new variant detected in France with 46 mutations

Scientists have discovered a new variant of Covid-19 in France. Called B.1.640.2, the new variant would come from Africa, the first case identified being a person returning from a recent trip to Cameroon.

According to experts, this new variant is not to be feared for the moment. So far, a dozen cases of infection with B.1.640.2 have been recorded near Marseille. Virologists have said it predates the Omicron variant, but is not as transmissible, however.

Currently, 60% of Covid-19 cases in France are believed to be due to Omicron.

The experts’ opinion

According to Tom Peacock, virologist at the Imperial Department of Infectious Disease, for now, one should not worry too much about the new variant. He explained that the strain had ʺ a chance to cause problems but it never really materialized.

According to reports, B.1.640.2 was first registered on November 4, 2021 in the GISAID variant tracking database. The Omicron variant was sequenced approximately two weeks later.

As of yet, no other country has yet officially reported the presence of the new strain. On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet labeled it as “under investigation”. In contrast, Maria Van Kerkhove, epidemiologist in charge of infectious diseases at the WHO, said the organization had registered B.1.640.2 as a ‘variant under surveillance’ in November.

B.1.640.2 is thus among the variants possessing genetic modifications liable to affect the characteristics of the virus. It is possible that it poses risks in the future, but the evidence for a phenotypic or epidemiological impact is not yet clear.

The mutations present on B.1.640.2

The B.1.640.2 variant is, according to scientists, different from the B.1.640 strain which appeared in September of last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Among the mutations it presents, there is the E484K mutation, which could make it more resistant to vaccines. It also exhibits the same N501Y mutation observed for the first time on the Alpha variant. Some experts believe that this mutation would make it more transmissible.

According to experts, new variants are constantly being discovered, but that does not mean that they will necessarily be more dangerous than old strains such as Delta or Alpha. However, we should start to worry when they have a high rate of transmissibility, especially because they have a large number of mutations compared to the original virus.

SOURCE: Mirror

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