Covid’s New Variant: Mu

🚨 🚨 The World Health Organization said that a new variant of the virus, known as Mu, is now responsible for a growing proportion of cases in Colombia, and which has been detected in 39 countries around the world, is now a “variant of interest
Early data indicates that the immunity provided by vaccines or through prior infection “may not be as strong against this variant,” though more studies are needed
In a statement, the WHO said that Mu, also known as B.1.621, “has been designated as a Variant of Interest as it has some mutations that need to be studied for their potential impact on the body’s immune response
Mu was first identified in Colombia in January, and is now responsible for 39% of cases in that country, the WHO says. Global prevalence of the variant is low, and falling, the agency says, but in recent weeks it has grown sharply in both Colombia and in Ecuador, where it now represents 13% of sequenced cases
In a weekly epidemiological update on Covid-19 published on Tuesday, the agency said that there have been some larger outbreaks of Mu in South America and Europe
“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the update said. It said that early data suggested that the capacity of blood sera from vaccinated people and people who had recovered from Covid-19 infections to neutralize the Mu variant was similar to their capacity against the Beta variant, also known as the South African variant, which is notably evasive of immune responses
Reports of Mu have been widespread in recent months. In late July, Florida television news station WPLG reported that the variant now known as Mu was responsible for 10% of Covid-19 samples sequenced at a University of Miami lab. In early August, Reuters reported that seven fully vaccinated residents of a Belgian nursing home had died from an outbreak of B.1.621

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