Thursday, 20 January, 2022
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France detects new variant in traveller from Cameroon

A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in a traveller who returned to France from Cameroon, the hospital IHU Mediterrannee in Marseille announced, reports MedicalBrief.

Relatively little is known of it, but from the preprint study published on MedRxiv so far:

• Researchers say that the variant B.1.640.2, contains 46 mutations — more than Omicron, which has 37 — which may make it more resistant to vaccines and infectious.

• Some 12 cases have been spotted so far near Marseille.

• Tests show the strain carries the N501Y mutation — first seen on the Alpha variant — that experts believe can make it more transmissible

• According to the scientists, it also carries the E484K mutation, which could mean that the IHU variant will be more resistant to vaccines.

• It is yet to be spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization.

Little is yet known about the origin of the new variant. The fact that B.1.640.2 has now been detected for the first time in a returnee from Cameroon does not mean that the variant has also emerged in the Central African country.

However, very low vaccination rates generally favour the emergence of new coronavirus mutations. In Cameroon, only 2.4% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.


Emergence in Southern France of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant of probably Cameroonian origin harbouring both substitutions N501Y and E484K in the spike protein, published on MedRxiv (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


New variants: Africa needs to strengthen its COVID response


MSF COVID-19 Accountability Report: 368 projects in 76 countries


Brazilian variant likely more transmissible and able to evade immunity — Manaus study


Dominant SA variant escapes antibodies — AHRI and UKZN study



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