12 infected people 100 kilometers from Marseille, a vaccinated person who traveled to France from Cameroon and 46 mutations. Those are all the ingredients that have turned the SARS-COV-2 variant called B.1.640.2 into the protagonist of the last hours of pandemic news.
The problem is that beyond sharing some mutations with the omicron, beta or gamma variants, we know very little about her. Practically nothing. And it is that the very rapid appearance of Ómicron has had many consequences in the world: among them, that public attention has once again shown interest in the dozens of variants of the virus that are moving around the planet.
Let’s talk about variants
What do we know about this new variant? After identification, researchers from the University of Aix-Marseille sequenced the samples of the variant and came to the conclusion (not yet peer reviewed) that B.1.640.2 had 46 mutations and 37 deletions resulting in 30 amino acid substitutions. 14 of which, including N501Y and E484K, and 9 deletions are in the S protein (the one the virus uses to “enter” cells).
What does this mean? I mean, what practical implications does all this have? The only complete answer is that we do not know in the medium term; but, in short, it has none. If the variant has become famous, it is precisely because of this general alarm and not because it has short-term health consequences, neither in the south of France, nor in the south of Europe. It is indisputable that, as we have seen with other variants, it is possible that B.1.640.2 ends up surprising us, but the truth is that for now it is just one more variant of the many that we have identified.
That does not mean that it is not important On the contrary, the identification of this variant (related to other strains identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo months ago) is, as the same authors point out in the study, an “example of the unpredictability of the appearance of variants of SARS-CoV- 2 and its [capacidad de] introduction into a specific geographic area from abroad “.