The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed the emergence of a new coronavirus variant called ‘Mu’ that has been identified in January in Colombia.
According to the global health body’s weekly pandemic briefing, Mu, also known as B.1.621, has been categorized as a "variant of interest".
The agency states that the variant features mutations that signal a risk of vaccine resistance and that more research is needed to understand it properly. The Mu variant holds a group of mutations that specify possible properties of immune escape.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, mutates over time, and most mutations have little or no influence on the virus's properties.
On the other hand, specific mutations can affect a virus's features, such as how quickly it spreads, the severity of the sickness it causes, and its resistance to vaccines, medicines, and other countermeasures.
The WHO has identified four Covid-19 variations of concern, including Alpha, found in 193 countries, and Delta, found in 170.
Mu is one of five versions that the WHO will be monitoring. It was initially discovered in Colombia and has since been found in several South American countries and Europe.
According to the WHO, the global frequency of disease has fallen to less than 0.1 per cent amongst sequenced cases. However, Colombia has a rate of 39 per cent.
Furthermore, the rate of infection are rising internationally, with the Delta variant getting a foothold, especially among the unvaccinated and in areas where vaccination efforts have been eased. This is raising the alarm for the emergence of new virus variants.
Mu has been identified as a variant of interest by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well. Still, it has not yet been escalated to the level of a variant of concern, which shows a considerable influence on transmissibility, severity, and immunity.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control says that the new variant might have a significant impact but warns that data is preliminary.