New coronavirus variant 'Mu'
GS Paper - 2 (Diseases)
The World Health Organization has said it is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as "Mu", which was first identified in Colombia in January. Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, has been classified as a "variant of interest", the global health body said in its weekly pandemic bulletin.
- The WHO said the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it.
- The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape.
- There is widespread concern over the emergence of new virus mutations as infection rates are ticking up globally again, with the highly transmissible Delta variant taking hold -- especially among the unvaccinated -- and in regions where anti-virus measures have been relaxed.
- All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19, mutate over time and most mutations have little or no effect on the properties of the virus.
- The WHO currently identifies four Covid-19 variants of concern, including Alpha, which is present in 193 countries, and Delta, present in 170 countries.
- Five variants, including Mu, are to be monitored.