The World Well being Group says that it’s monitoring a coronavirus variant detected in a small variety of sufferers in France, however that, for now, there’s little cause to fret about its unfold.

The B.1.640.2 variant was first recognized in October and uploaded to Gisaid, a database for illness variants, on Nov. 4. Solely about 20 samples have been sequenced thus far, consultants mentioned this week, and just one since early December.

Abdi Mahmud, a Covid incident supervisor with the W.H.O., advised reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the variant had been on the company’s radar since November, however added that it didn’t seem to have unfold broadly over the previous two months.

“That virus has had a variety of possibilities to choose up,” he mentioned.

In contrast, the Omicron variant, which was first uploaded to Gisaid on Nov. 23, has greater than 120,000 sequences within the database. (The overwhelming majority of Omicron circumstances haven’t been sequenced.) It has been detected in at the least 128 countries, in keeping with the W.H.O., and is fueling record-high case numbers in lots of components of the world.

Issues over the variant in France arose after researchers discovered that it contained 46 mutations that differed from the unique model of the coronavirus. Omicron additionally has a excessive variety of mutations, which researchers imagine made it much more transmissible.

In accordance with a research paper that was revealed on a preprint server in late December, however that has not been peer-reviewed, the B.1.640.2 variant was first detected in southeastern France in a vaccinated one who had lately traveled from Cameroon. Researchers discovered a complete of 12 circumstances within the space and named the variant “I.H.U.,” after the analysis institute in Marseille that helped determine it.

“It’s too early to invest on virological, epidemiological or scientific options of this I.H.U. variant based mostly on these 12 circumstances,” researchers wrote.

Quite a few coronavirus variants have emerged over the previous two years, and the explanations that some unfold broadly whereas others don’t are complex. For now, a number of unbiased researchers say there’s little cause to be involved in regards to the I.H.U. variant.

Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial School in London, tweeted this week that, thus far, “this virus has had an honest probability to trigger bother however by no means actually materialised.”