The World Health Organization has sounded the alarm bells about a new coronavirus variant called ‘Mu’. The organization said this ‘variant of interest’ was displaying signs of resistance to vaccines.
Scientifically dubbed as B.1.621, Mu was first detected in Columbia at the beginning of this year. Since its first detection, reports about Mu infections have sprung up across different parts of the world.
From South America to Europe, Mu infections were detected sporadically and on a larger scale, too, said WHO. The Mu infections were previously reported in UK, Europe, the USA, and Hong Kong.
However, the global spread of the Mu variant is currently below 0.1 percent. On an individual scale, Colombia has 39 percent Mu variant prevalence while Ecuador clocked 13 percent.
The variant has been on the WHO’s radar since August 30, after 39 countries reported its detection. The organization opined that the variant possesses a ‘constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape’.
WHO stated that the reports about the variant should be perceived with due consideration as most countries have low sequencing capacity. This is the fifth variant which is of interest to WHO since March.
What is alarming is that the Mu variant has numerous mutated versions, which suggest that the variant could possess stronger resistance to vaccines.
The initial data has displayed that Mu may circumvent the immunity system just as the same way Beta variant did. However, the health organization stated they would need to investigate to confirm their findings.
‘More studies are required to understand the phenotypic and clinical characteristics of this variant,’ WHO said. It added that Mu’s epidemiology would be closely observed for any anomalies. WHO has obtained samples and went over 4,500 genome sequences and designated the variant as Mu. The sequence analysis will help WHO understand how this variant permeates through people.
The variants are prevalent in the USA, with 2,065 cases. Colombia scored the unwanted second spot with 852 cases, while Mexico trailed behind Colombia with 357 cases. South Africa also stated that it was watching the development of another variant in their country.
The South African scientists at National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform stated that the new variant, termed C.1.2, was first detected in May 2021.
It was also detected in China, DRC, and other countries as of August 13. WHO, however, stated that the C.1.2 is not a variant of interest for now.
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