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Current Affairs

Mu variant

Date: 07 September 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The World Health Organization has designated B.1.621 version of SARS-CoV-2 as a variant of interest (VOI).

 

Background

The new variant has been named as “Mu”. The epidemiology of this variant is observed in South America.

 

Details

  • The classification of a variant as VOI is based on various conditions such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape etc.

  • The level of concern given under VOI was lower in comparison to Alpha, Beta or Delta variant. These variants are associated with factors such as an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in epidemiology, etc.

  • The assessment made by WHO indicates that the Mu variant has certain characteristics that indicate potential properties of immune escape.

 

The origin

  • The MU variant was first isolated in Colombia in January 2021. There have been sporadic as well as major outbreaks involving the variant in Europe and South America.

  • The prevalence of the MU variant globally is as low as 0.1%. In Colombia the prevalence is 29% and in Ecuador it is 13%.

  • The cases of Mu variant have been observed in areas such as UK, US, Hong Kong, Europe etc. UK has put it in list of variants under investigation.

 

The concerns

  • The Mu variant has significant changes in its spike proteins. It may considerably lower the effectiveness of vaccines as spike proteins are targeted by vaccines.

  • The research says that Mu variant is expected to become more threatening than other variants emerging. In near future, this variant may be upgraded as “Variant of Concern”.