WHO monitoring new Covid variant named Mu 4 months ago

WHO monitoring new Covid variant named Mu

The Mu variant has been detected in 39 countries and at least 32 cases have been discovered in the UK

The World Health Organisation has added another Covid variant to its list of "variants of interest".

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The Mu variant, also known as B.1.621, was added to the watchlist on Tuesday after it was detected in 39 countries and amid concerns it may partially evade the immunity people have developed from past infection or vaccination.

The variant, according to the WHO’s weekly bulletin on the pandemic, “has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape”.

Preliminary data suggests it may evade immune defences in a similar way to the Beta variant first discovered in South Africa, the report adds. However, this is yet to be confirmed.

The Mu variant was first identified in Colombia in January 2021 but cases have also been reported in the UK, Europe, the US and Hong Kong.

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At least 32 cases of the Mu variant have been detected in the UK - largely in London - where it is believed to have been brought in by travellers.

While the variant makes up less than 0.1% of Covid infections globally, it may be gaining ground in Colombia and Ecuador where it accounts for 39% and 13% of Covid cases respectively, The Guardian reported.

Health officials are now trying to determine if the Mu variant is more transmissible, and more damaging, then the Delta variant that is the current dominant strain.

The WHO bulletin states: “The epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes."

The Mu variant was added to Public Health England’s list of variants under investigation in July.

The designation, which refers to Mu as VUI-21JUL-01, means the variant will be monitored to see how it behaves, The Guardian reported, adding that so far it had not raised alarm as much as Alpha and Delta.