WHO Official Downplays New COVID IHU Variant Found in France

The World Health Organization said a coronavirus variant found in France hasn’t become much of a threat since it was first identified in November.

The variant “has been on our radar,” Abdi Mahamud, a WHO incident manager on Covid, said at a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. “That virus had a lot of chances to pick up.”

It was detected in twelve individuals in the southern Alps at the exact same time as omicron in South Africa. The latter mutation has since traveled the globe and kindled record levels of contagion, unlike the French one that researchers at the IHU Mediterranee Infection — helmed by scientist Didier Raoult — nicknamed IHU.

One of the first patients to have the variant identified was one who had been vaccinated. He also just returned from Cameroon. Researchers at IHU wrote that paper in the medRxiv Server in December. It is here they brought attention to these atypical mutations for the first time.

It’s “too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases,” they wrote in the article, which hasn’t been peer reviewed.

Raoult, who recommended treatment using hydroxychloroquine in the early days of the pandemic caused controversy.

The WHO monitors multiple variants, and when it finds one may pose a significant risk, it declares it a “variant of concern.” This one is only under investigation.


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