New Covid variant in France ‘with 46 mutations’ explained as expert answers questions

A new coronavirus variant, named B.1.640.2, is believed to contain 46 mutations of the original strain of the virus. It was discovered by experts in the south of France

A new Covid variant has been identified in France
A new Covid variant has been identified in France (Stock photo)

Scientists have expressed concerns over a Covid variant which is said to contain 46 mutations of the original strain of the virus.

The variant, which has been named B.1.640.2, was first discovered by experts in the south of France.

It is believed that the first case originated from travel into the country from Cameroon.

A pre-print paper on the new variant said 12 people have tested positive for the strain in the same region of France.

The B.1.640 variant has already been defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a “variant under monitoring”.

This strain of the virus was first discovered by scientists in the Republic of Congo in September 2021, before the Omicron variant.

The new variant has been named B.1.640.2 (Stock photo)


AFP via Getty Images)

Virologist Tom Peacock, of Imperial College London, tweeted: “There haven’t been any new [variant] sequences uploaded since before Christmas.

“This virus has had a decent chance to cause trouble but never really materialised (as far as we can tell at least.”

He added: “Not one worth worrying about too much at the moment.”

The paper, which has been penned by French government backed experts, is yet to be peer reviewed.

Its presence was first detected by experts at the IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille.

A booster increases protection from serious illness


AFP via Getty Images)

Azeem Majeed, professor of Primary Care at Imperial College London, answers your questions on the French supermutation…

Why are some scientists concerned about the variant found in France?

A new variant may be more infectious, leading to waves of infection.

Should we be worried, and why?

The B.1.640.2 variant was identified over a month ago and, so far, it has not caused a massive global spike in Covid-19 cases.

Will it become normal for variants to emerge and spread around the world?

The coronavirus will mutate constantly. We may well see other variants emerge.

Are variants getting milder, or could another variant be deadlier?

There is no guarantee a new variant will be milder.

Could Omicron end the pandemic?

It’s unlikely, but with updated vaccines and antiviral drugs we can suppress the severity of disease from Covid-19.

If the world has to live with Covid, what might that look like?

In the UK, high levels of vaccination and antiviral drugs will allow our society to function more normally.

Why is the booster important for fighting Omicron?

The immunity provided by vaccines weakens after a few months. A booster increases protection from serious illness.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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