Even as the world is reeling with the effects of the newest COVID-19 variant Omicron discovered in late November 2021, two new variations of the original SARS-CoV-2 have been reported from Israel and France in the new year. Termed as Flurona and Ihu, these new variations, experts from the two countries believe, could further drive the spread of the coronavirus.
With over 29.5 crore confirmed cases and over 54 lakh deaths, and the dominance of the Delta and the Omicron variants, these two new changes in the virus will have to be keenly followed and observed.
What Is Flurona?
Flurona- a mixture of Coronavirus and flu gained prominence after an unvaccinated pregnant woman in Israel was detected with both Corona and flu at the same time. A large cluster of people were found to be positive in the country with both the illnesses during the same period.
While the Corona waves led to a reduction in flu cases and the United States reported the lowest number of flu cases since 2005, according to the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, the current winter is witnessing respiratory illnesses with flu-like symptoms are comparable to pre-pandemic numbers. Flu caused by the Influenza virus is a major cause of illnesses in the West and people are expected to take shots against the virus at regular intervals.
The cluster of cases in Israel have risen as the country was less exposed to the Influenza pathogen in 2020 and with the decreasing importance to social distancing and personal hygiene that is being practiced across the world. However, Israel is not the first country to detect the presence of both flu and COVID-19 among patients. In 2020 as well as 2021, countries such as US, Brazil had earlier reported patients testing positive for both the respiratory illnesses simultaneously.
What Is Ihu?
A new sub-lineage of the B.1.640 variant has been reported in France after a study by the Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, part of France's Instituts hospitalo-universitaires (IHU, or University Hospital Institutes) was in circulation that discusses the presence of this strain in 12 cases in South-West France. It appeared to have entered the country through a traveller who arrived from Cameroon.
With 287 cases in France, 17 cases in Germany and 16 in the United Kingdom, this variant that was first identified in January 2021, is not seen to be spreading as rapidly as the Delta and Omicron variants. It has 46 proteins deleted from the original sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and was considered as a variant under monitoring by the World Health Organisation in November.
According to the website outbreak.info, this variant was last detected on December 25 and no new case has been detected in the global databases since then. India's leading genomic sequencing scientist, Dr. Vinod Scaria who is a part of the CSIR-Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology tweeted that there is no need to panic currently but the spread of this new variant has to be monitored.
Updated On: 2022-01-12T15:41:45+05:30