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WHO Monitors New COVID-19 Variant Called “mu”


At the height of cases from the COVID-19 delta variant, the World Health Organization announced that they are monitoring a new COVID-19 variant referred to as mu.

The agency says it has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination. It was first identified in Colombia but is also detected in at least 39 countries.

According to the WHO, although the global prevalence of the variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia and Ecuador has consistently increased.

The variant mu – known by scientists as B.1.621 – was added to the organization’s list of variants on August 30, according to its weekly Covid epidemiological report published late Tuesday.

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Reports on mu

The WHO released fundamental information about the new mutation.

“The variant contains genetic mutations that indicate natural immunity, current vaccines or monoclonal antibody treatments may not work as well against it as they do against the original ancestral virus,” the WHO said.

“The mu strain needs further study to confirm whether it will prove to be more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments,” it added.

The international organization also stated in its report on Tuesday that the mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape.

Furthermore, preliminary data presented to the Virus Evolution Working Group show a reduction in neutralization capacity of convalescent and vaccine sera similar to that seen for the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies

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Variants Monitored

Currently, WHO is monitoring four variants “of concern,” including delta, first detected in India and is the most prevalent variant currently active in the U.S.; alpha, first detected in the U.K.; beta, first detected in South Africa, and gamma, first detected in Brazil.

By definition, a variant of concern is a mutated strain that’s either more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments.

Additionally, it is also keeping an eye on a variant called lambda which was first detected in Peru and is the reason behind outbreaks in multiple countries and has genetic changes that could make them more dangerous than other strains.

“The epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes,” the agency said.

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