Covid-19 variant detected in France not a threat, WHO says
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said the coronavirus variant found in France has not morphed into a threat since it was first identified in November.
The variant was identified in 12 people in the southern Alps around the same time that omicron was discovered in South Africa last year, according to Time. Omicron mutation has since travelled the globe and kindled record levels of contagion, unlike the French one that researchers at the IHU Mediterranee Infection, led by scientist Didier Raoult, nicknamed IHU.
The variant “has been on our radar,” Abdi Mahamud, a WHO incident manager on Covid, said at a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. “That virus had a lot of chances to pick up.”
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The first patient identified with the variant was vaccinated and had just returned from Cameroon, IHU researchers wrote in a paper published on the medRxiv server in late December where they first drew attention to the atypical mutations.
It’s “too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this IHU variant based on these 12 cases,” they wrote in the article, which hasn’t been peer reviewed.
Raoult stirred controversy in the early stages of the pandemic by recommending treatment with hydroxychloroquine.
The WHO monitors multiple variants, and when it finds one may pose a significant risk, it declares it a “variant of concern.” This one is only under investigation.