WHO monitoring new COVID variant ‘Mu’

Mu Variant’ of the coronavirus was first identified in Colombia in January 2021. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring this variant of interest.

Mu Variant

  • Mu variant is scientifically known as B.1.621 and has been classified as a “variant of interest”.
  • According to WHO, variant has constellation of mutations indicating a risk of resistance to vaccines.
  • Mu has been reported in other South American countries and in Europe, besides Columbia.
  • As per WHO, global prevalence of the Mu Variant has declined to 0.1 percent. In Colombia, its prevalence stands at 39 percent.

What are the concerns?

Concerns are raising over the emergence of new virus mutations because infection rates are increasing globally again due to highly transmissible Delta variant. Cases are rising especially among the unvaccinated regions and the regions where covid-19 measures have been relaxed.

Mutation among virus

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, mutate over time. Most of the mutation has little or no effect on properties of the virus. However, there are certain mutations which can impact the properties of virus, how easily it spreads, severity of the disease, and its resistance to vaccines & drugs.

Variant of concern

WHO has currently designated four Covid-19 variants of concerns. It includes Alpha variant, which is present in 193 countries, as well as Delta variant, which is present in 170 countries. Now, Mu variant was added to the list which is currently being monitored along with four others.

About Mu variant

Mu variant is also known as lineage B.1.621 or VUI-21JUL-1. It was first detected in January 2021 in Colombia. WHO designated it as ‘Variant of interest’ on August 30, 2021. Cases of the Mu variant were reported in South America and Europe.

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