French scientists have identified a new variant of coronavirus with 46 mutations, named IHU or variant B.1.640.2. It infected 12 people in Southeast France.

According to the hospital, IHU Mediterranee in Marseille, the strain of coronavirus was detected in early December in a traveller who returned to France from the African country, Cameroon who reportedly infected 12 people. This new strain has more mutations than the omicron variant of coronavirus.


The paper was published in a preprint server for Health Sciences, medRxiv, in which researchers found that “46 mutations” have not been spotted in any other countries nor recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The authors of the paper said, “subsequent detection … of three mutations in the spike gene to screen for variants … did not correspond to the pattern of the delta variant involved in almost all SARS-CoV-2 infections at that time.”

It is not yet decided by scientists if the new strain is infectious as compared to the omicron variant though it has more mutation than omicron.

An epidemiologist and fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, Feigl Ding said, “What makes a variant more well-known and dangerous is its ability to multiply because of the number of mutations it has in relation to the original virus.”

He continued, “This is when it becomes a ‘variant of concern’ — like omicron, which is more contagious and more past immunity evasive. It remains to be seen in which category this new variant will fall.”

Earlier, Israel detected the first case of Florana disease which is a double infection of covid and influenza on December 30, 2021.