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New COVID variant, B.1.640.2, with 46 mutations infects 12 in southern France

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Scientists have issued a red alert following the discovery of yet another new COVID-19 strain in France.

According to the experts, the index case had recently returned from a trip to Cameroon, indicating that it may have originated in the African country.

12 people who lived in the same area tested positive for the virus, but their tests showed a different kind of combination.

An expert group affiliated with a French government-sponsored initiative reported in a preprint report that has not yet been peer-reviewed that they had discovered “46 mutations” in the strain.

The variant has been identified as B.1.640.2.

The presence of the virus was discovered for the first time by specialists at the IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille.

Early this month, they revealed on their Twitter account that they had discovered a novel variety in COVID-19 patients from Forcalquier, a town in the Alpes-de Haute-Provence area of France.

The number of new variants being identified on a regular basis is staggering, yet this does not necessarily imply that they are more deadly than Delta or Alpha.

One of the characteristics that distinguish a variant from the original virus is its ability to multiply, which is attributed to the number of mutations it possesses in comparison to the original virus.

This is when it turns into a “variant of concern,” like Omicron.

It is currently unclear which category this new variety will fit into.

“SARS-CoV-2 variants have become a major virological, epidemiological and clinical concern, particularly with regard to the risk of escape from vaccine-induced immunity,” according to the study, which was published on December 29.

It comes as France has shortened the isolation period for people who have been vaccinated in an attempt to alleviate the financial and social constraints associated with the outbreak.

Those who have been fully vaccinated who test positive will have their self-isolation times reduced from ten to seven days on Monday – and this can be reduced to five days if the test results are inconclusive.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said: “Unvaccinated people will have to isolate themselves for 10 days, with a possible exit after seven days under the same conditions.

France registered 219,126 new infections on Saturday, making it the sixth country in the world to surpass 10 million total recorded cases of COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.

Image Credit: Getty

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