French researchers say that a new COVID strain detected in people in France contains 46 mutations — even more than Omicron — which makes it more resistant to vaccines and infectious. Some 12 cases have been spotted so far near Marseille, with the first linked to travel to the African country Cameroon.
Tests show the strain carries the N501Y mutation — first seen on the Alpha variant — that experts believe can make it more transmissible.
According to scientists, it also carries the E484K mutation, which could mean that the IHU variant will be more resistant to vaccines.
It has yet to be spotted in other countries or labeled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization.
Currently, Omicron is the dominant coronavirus variant in France, joining other European countries like the United Kingdom and Portugal with surging case numbers over the past few days.
France’s public health agency had recently said that “62.4 percent of tests showed a profile compatible with the Omicron variant.”
The Omicron variant of coronavirus has stoked average daily confirmed cases to more than 160,000 per day over the past week, with peaks above 200,000.
“The tidal wave has indeed arrived, it’s enormous, but we will not give in to panic,” Health Minister Olivier Veran was quoted as telling Parliament.
In an attempt to battle this surge, French MPs have proposed legislation that would require most people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter public spaces such as bars, restaurants, and long-distance public transport.