The IHU coronavirus variant, or B.1.640.2 variant, is one of the variants that has emerged from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Researchers discovered the variant at the end of 2021 in France.

IHU causes mild symptoms such as shortness of breath, muscle pain, and sore throat. However, it is less transmissible than other variants, and researchers do not consider it a serious health threat.

This article explores the IHU coronavirus variant in further detail and discusses the symptoms and transmissible rates of other variants. It also discusses some strategies to help limit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

According to a 2022 article, an Instituts Hospitalo-Universitaires center in France first identified the IHU coronavirus variant. Researchers also call it B.1.640.2.

The first person to contract this variant had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and returned to France after visiting Cameroon. Doctors also detected the IHU variant in 12 other individuals living in the same area of France.

Researchers have detected the spread of the IHU variant to other locations, including:

  • Germany
  • Congo
  • India
  • United Kingdom

However, its transmission rate seems low, and as of early 2022, there has only been one case in India.

The authors of a 2022 study explain that the IHU variant does not spread rapidly and has 46 mutations and 37 deletions, making it different from the original virus.

There are also some differences between B.1.640.2 and the other variants.

IHU variant vs. Delta

The Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, started in India in 2020 and began spreading to other countries. By 2021, more than 90% of people in the United States had contracted the Delta variant.

Delta may cause sore throat, headaches, and fever. People are less likely to develop a cough or loss of smell.

Delta spreads rapidly and may require individuals to undergo hospital treatment. Those who have not had a COVID-19 vaccination tend to be at a higher risk of requiring hospitalization and transmitting the virus.

IHU variant vs. Omicron

Omicron is a variant that emerged in November 2021. Its symptoms may include:

Some people who contract this variant may also develop nausea and lower back pain. There is no evidence that it can cause pneumonia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Omicron spreads faster than the other variants. It can also develop in people who have previously contracted Delta.

IHU variant vs. Gamma

Gamma is another SARS-CoV-2 variant that scientists discovered in Brazil in November 2020.

According to a 2021 study, its mutations are similar to the Alpha and Beta variants, allowing it to attach easily to human cells. However, it is less transmissible than Alpha and Beta.

Some symptoms that a person may develop if they contract the Gamma variant include:

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can change over time. These changes, or mutations, can lead to the development of virus variants, which affects disease severity and how it responds to treatment strategies, such as vaccines or social distancing.

The WHO works with various authorities, researchers, and institutions to evaluate and monitor SARS-CoV-2 and informs the public of coronavirus pandemic updates.

Additionally, WHO classifies specific variants of concern if they spread rapidly, cause severe symptoms, or reduce vaccines’ effectiveness. The variants that have received the title of a “variant of concern” are Omicron, Gamma, and Beta. Researchers have found that these can cause infections and affect vaccinated people and those who previously contracted SARS-CoV-2.

The WHO has not taken this step for the IHU variant, indicating it is not a major concern.

There may be further new variants if the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread. Some steps to limit transmission that may protect people from acquiring COVID-19 include:

  • getting vaccinated
  • opening the windows to keep spaces ventilated
  • coughing and sneezing in tissue and discarding appropriately
  • regularly washing hands
  • keeping a 1-meter distance from others where possible

Learn more about how to reduce transmission risk.

According to 2022 study, individuals contracting the B.1.640.2 variant may develop mild respiratory-related symptoms. These may include:

  • fever or chills
  • fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion
  • shortness of breath

A person should call 911 if any of these emergency COVID-19 signs develop:

People should stay home and limit contact with others if they have received a positive COVID-19 result.

The WHO warns that COVID-19 symptoms affect people of any age, and they should seek immediate medical care if they develop loss of speech or movement.

IHU is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It does not transmit as easily as other variants, and the WHO has not labeled it as a variant of concern.

Symptoms can be mild, including shortness of breath, muscle pain, and a sore throat.

However, practicing physical distancing, vaccinating, and washing hands frequently can help limit transmission.