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WHO says Mu variant might be vaccine resistant

The World Health Organization has stated that it is closely monitoring a distinct “variant of interest” described by Mu, warning that the new variant exhibits signs of possible resistance to vaccines.

Mu – also identified by its scientific name as B.1.621 – was first distinguished in Colombia in January 2021, and since then, there have been ‘sporadic reports’ of cases and some major outbreaks in South America and Europe, the health agency said in its weekly newsletter about the pandemic on Tuesday.

The Mu variant has also been reported in the United Kingdom, Europe, the USA, and Hong Kong. The new ‘variant of interest’ is being closely watched, the UN health agency stated.

Although the global pervasiveness of the Mu variant amongst consecutive COVID-19 cases is currently below 0.1%, its predominance in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has unwaveringly grown, he told.

The new variant was attached to the WHO’s watch list on 30 August after being detected in 39 countries and has a ‘constellation of mutations‘ indicating possible features of immune escape.

Reports on the occurrence of the variant should be interpreted “with due regard”, given the low sequencing capability of most nations, the UN agency told. Mu is the fifth variant of interest observed by the WHO since March. 

The WHO warned that it has several mutations that hint it is more resistant to vaccines, but stated further study would be needed to verify this. Preliminary data show that it could avoid immune defence in a similar way to the Beta variant initial located in South Africa, the UN agency stated, figuring that it needed to be confirmed by further work.

“More researches are required to understand the phenotypic and clinical characteristics of this variant,” he stated, continuing that the epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, especially with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored at changes.

As of August 29, more than 4,500 rows (3,794 B.1.621 rows and 856 B.1.621.1 rows), genomic series, analyzed samples of the virus taken from patients have been designated Mu in the past four weeks. The rows are used to track how it moves through the population, in an open-source genome repository known as GISAID.

Most of these were reported in the US (2,065) and Colombia (852), Mexico (357) and Spain (473). Meantime, South African experts are closely watching the development of different new variant. Scientists from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) in South Africa have said that the possible variant of interest, C.1.2, will be launched in May for the first time in the country in May this year. has been detected.

They said that C.1.2 has been found since August 13 in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland. Nevertheless, according to the analysis of the World Health Organization, C.1.2 is not yet a variant to understand, nor is it a variant of interest.

All viruses mutate over time and most variations have limited or no effect on the behaviour of the disease. According to Johns Hopkins University tracking data, the new coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 45 lakh people worldwide

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