Yet another strain of the COVID-19 virus has emerged in France, after the case was discovered in a person returning from travel in the West African nation of Cameroon.
The new strain has now been identified in 12 people who may have had contact with the person, who lives in a small town in southeastern France. That’s according to French scientists from IHU Méditerranée Infection, who just published their preprint research ahead of peer review.
The case was detected during mid-November after the unidentified person was in Cameroon for three days. The new variant shows a number of genetic changes, some but not all of them consistent with previously known strains of the virus. It’s been named the “IHU” after the institution where the scientists are affiliated.
“These observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad, and they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread,” the paper authors said.
The IHU scientists caution that it’s too soon to know how the variant will behave, in terms of the severity of symptoms or how easily it can be spread to others.
The original virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, has led to a number of “variants of concern,” including the Delta and Omicron variants.
As of January 1, nearly 10 million COVID cases have been reported on the African continent, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll has reached 228,856.
Image: University of Hong Kong file