IHU COVID-19 variant not ‘circulating widely at the moment,’ WHO says – National
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead with the World Health Organization, told reporters at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday that the mutation is considered as a “variant under monitoring.”
The variant, known as B.1.640, was dubbed the “IHU variant” recently by researchers at the Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute (IHU) in Marseilles, France, Forbes reports.
What do we know about the ‘IHU’ variant?
The WHO said the variant emerged in multiple countries in Sept. 2021, and was labelled as a variant worth monitoring in November. The other two categories of greater significance the WHO uses to track variants are “variant of concern,” which includes Delta and Omicron, and “variant of interest.”
According to the French researchers, IHU was found in 12 people in the country’s south at roughly the same time that Omicron was discovered in South Africa last year, Bloomberg reports. Omicron has since spread around the world, driving up infections and increasing hospitalizations in countries like Canada.
“Within France, less than one per cent of the samples that were sequenced … are of this particular variant,” Van Kerkhove said.
“It’s important that we track this, particularly because of the number of the mutations it has, but it isn’t circulating widely at the moment.”
Van Kerkhove added that current COVID-19 vaccines work against all variants that are circulating, and pushed for people to get inoculated.
“They are highly effective against preventing severe disease and death, and I think that’s really important for the public to know and has been said many times, when it is your turn, get vaccinated because it’s really critical,” she said.
“Vaccines save lives.”
— with files from Reuters.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.