After being recognized in Colombia, Mu, inferred scientifically as B.1.621, has since been recorded in other South American regions and Europe. This new coronavirus concern inferred as “Mu”, which was foremost observed in Colombia in January, has been specified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation.
The global health body explained in a statement in this weekly pandemic bulletin that the variant Mu has a constellation of mutations that show probable properties of immune escape. Not just Mu, there are 4 other variants of interest such as Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda.
What all has been discovered about the new variant:
- The variant is scientifically recognized as B.1.621 and was categorized as a variant of interest in August 2021.
- The World Health Organisation said its widespread plurality has ebbed to below 0.1 per cent among sequenced cases. In Colombia, still, it is at 39 percent.
- The variant may need immune escape properties because it features a constellation of mutations.
- The WHO’s weekly periodical on the pandemic explained the variant has mutations indicating it could be more resistant to vaccines, as was the case with Beta, but that more research would be required to evaluate this further.
Why developing variants are a concern
There is extensive concern over the emergence of recent virus mutations as infection ratios are ticking up globally too, with the highly virulent Delta variant seizing hold – specifically among the unvaccinated and in areas where anti-virus regulations have been loosened up.
All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, mutate over the period and most mutations have small or no effect on the properties of the virus.
But specific mutations can affect the properties of a virus and impact how handily it spreads, the severity of the disease it results in, and its resistance to vaccines, drugs, and other countermeasures.
The World Health Organisation presently recognizes four COVID-19 variants of concern, incorporating Alpha, which is present in 193 countries, and Delta, present in 170 countries.
Better resistant to vaccines
Mu is the 5th variant of interest to be controlled by the WHO since March. It has several mutations that indicate it could be better resistant to vaccines, the health agency advised, but pointed out that further research would be required to confirm this. Introductory data indicate reduced effectiveness of vaccines “similar to that seen for the Beta variant”. The WHO explained it would be regulating the epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, especially with the co-circulation of the Delta variant…for changes.