The World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to label a new strain called IHU as a COVID-19 variant days after it was detected in France.
According to reports, the WHO will only label a strain as a variant once it shows an increase in transmissibility, or increase in virulence, or a decrease in vaccine effectiveness.
According to AL, IHU contains 46 mutations, and it also carries the E484K and N501Y mutations that could be more resistant to vaccines and could become more transmissible. As of press writing, 12 people residing near Marseille have tested positive for IHU.
WHO officials urge the public not to panic
On Tuesday, WHO incident manager Abdi Mahamud said that IHU has been on their radar, and it also has a chance to pick up.
IHU scientists also confirmed that the first person identified with the IHU strain just returned from Cameroon and is fully vaccinated. In their paper, the scientists said that it's still too early to speculate whether the strain can be classified as a COVID-19 variant, according to the Times of India.
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding posted a lengthy tweet confirming that the new strain is being monitored to determine how infectious and dangerous it is.
"There are scores of new variants discovered all the time, but it does not necessarily mean they will be more dangerous. 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," Feigl-Ding said via The Independent.
Feigl-Ding added that a strain becomes a variant of concern when it is able to mutate far more than the original virus. The same can be said about Omicron, which is more contagious and more past immunity evasive.
Omicron still the dominant variant in the US
Two months ago, the first case of Omicron was detected in South Africa. Within hours, the number of active cases in the country doubled. It didn't take long before other countries reported Omicron cases in different states and cities.
In the United States, 1 million cases were reported on Monday. But out of all the states, Washington and Florida had the biggest jump inactive cases in the last two weeks.
According to NBC News, COVID-19 cases in Washington increased by 902 percent in the last two weeks. And in Florida, the number of active cases increased by 744 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 95 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the United States is Omicron, while the other 5 percent is from the delta variant.
Omicron, Delta combined could lead to a tsunami of cases
Last month, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said that the omicron and delta variants fuel an alarming trend.
On Wednesday, he said that the combined omicron and delta cases have resulted in a tsunami of cases. In other parts of the world, thousands of omicron cases have also been reported.
Last month, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Denmark were named as the four countries with the highest number of omicron cases, according to Business Insider.