A NEW Covid variant with 46 mutations has been found in France – but is spreading slowly with only 12 cases spotted so far.
Mutated variants are extremely common among viruses, with many never taking off beyond a handful of infections.
New variants are common and don’t always mean they will become a threat
The Marseille infections have been linked to travel to Cameroon, and so far show little sign of outcompeting Omicron.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
The new strain is thought to have the potential to spread quickly and be vaccine-resistant – but is no current cause for alarm, especially as boosters work against the similarly mutated Omicron.
It was first noted on December 10 at the IHU Mediterranee Infection but has not spread much since. It has been dubbed and B.1.640.2.
Professor Philippe Colson, who heads up the unit, said: “We indeed have several cases of this new variant in the Marseille geographical area.
“We named it ‘variant IHU’. Two new genomes have just been submitted.”
Omicron now makes up 60 per cent of cases in France, and is dominant in many other countries.
Tests show the new strain carries the E484K and N501Y mutations, these are believed to make it more vaccine-resistant and transmissible.
The scientists wrote: “These observations show once again the unpredictability of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and their introduction from abroad.
“And they exemplify the difficulty to control such introduction and subsequent spread.”
It comes after a vaccines chief handed Brits another shot in the arm – as he said the worst days of the Covid crisis are “absolutely behind us”.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says society must soon reopen fully.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions are finally dropping in London for the first time since the mutation emerged.
And a top expert says she believes life could be back to normal in just 60 days as cases peak.
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Boris Johnson suggested unvaxxed Brits make it their New Year’s resolution to get jabbed.
In a stark warning he said: “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated. The people who think the disease can’t hurt them – look at the people going into hospital now, that could be you.
“Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster, that could be you.
“So, make it your New Year’s resolution – far easier than losing weight or keeping a diary – find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment.”