IHU variant of Covid-19- Today Current Affairs
- The discovery of a new strain named ‘IHU (Institute Hospitalo-Universitres)’ that emerged in France in the course of the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has created panic around the world.
- Its discovery was announced by researchers at the Institute Hospitalo-Universitaires (IHU or University Hospital Institutes) of France in the part of the Mediterranean Infection in Marseille, hence the name.
- The first known case of the IHU variant was found in mid-November 2021 in a French man who had returned from Cameroon, Africa (the continent where Omicron was discovered).
- It is a sub-lineage of variant B.1.640. It is classified as B.1.640.2.
- This type of genetic code has more than 46 mutations and 37 deletions from the omicron, many of which affect the spike protein.
Spread Rate: The Hindu Analysis
- So far only a dozen cases have been reported in France. No new cases of the new variant have been detected in any other country. It’s definitely not as dangerous as Omicron.
- While a large number of significant mutations in this variant have attracted the interest of researchers and raised concern among the public, B.1.640 is not spreading at a rate that is troubling.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet considered this IHU version to be of interest, concern, even as a variant under investigation.
Variant of Interest (VOI): The Hindu Analysis
- It is a variant with specific ‘Genetic Markers’ that can alter ‘receptor binding’, reduce the effect of infection by antibodies produced during previous infection or vaccination, and reduce clinical impact and potential treatment of or relating to transmitting infection or increasing the severity of disease.
There are currently two types of VOIs: The Hindu Analysis
- Mu (B.1.621), which emerged in Colombia in early 2021.
- Lambda (C.37), which emerged in Peru at the end of 2020.
Variant of Concern (VOC): The Hindu Analysis
- This variant of the virus can result in increased infectivity, more severe illness (e.g. hospitalization or death), significant reduction in antibodies produced during previous infection or vaccination, decreased effectiveness of treatment or vaccine, or failure of clinical treatment is seen.
- 1.1.7 (UK variant), B.1.351 (South Africa variant), P.1 (Brazil variant), B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants found in the US are classified as VOCs.
More serious variants: The Hindu Analysis
- More severe variants confirm that preventive measures or medical countermeasures significantly reduce the relative effectiveness of already prevalent variants.
Variant under Investigation (VUI): The Hindu Analysis
- Public Health England (PHE) says that if a variant of SARS-CoV-2 is found to have epidemic, immunological or pathogenic properties, then it can be formally investigated.
- The B.1.617 variant is designated as VUI for this purpose.
Mutations, variants and strains: The Hindu Analysis
- When a virus replicates itself, it is not always able to make an exact copy of itself.
- This means that over time the virus may begin to vary slightly in terms of its genetic sequence.
- Any change in the viral genetic sequence during this process is known as mutation.
- Viruses with new mutations are sometimes called variants. Variants may differ by one or several mutations.
- When a new variant has different functional properties from the original virus, it is known as a new strain of virus.
- Thus all strains are variants, but not all variants are strains.