COVID-19 “MU Variant
The World Health Organization (WHO) has added another coronavirus variant to its list to monitor. It’s called the mu variant and has been designated a variant of interest (VOI). What this means is that mu has genetic differences to the other known variants and is causing infections in multiple countries, so, therefore, might present a particular threat to public health. (You must know everything about COVID-19 “MU Variant”)
Where is the new “mu variant” spreading?
Mu was first seen in Colombia in January 2021, when it was given the designation B1621. It has since been detected in 40 countries but is thought to currently be responsible for only 0.1% of infections globally.
Mu has been much more prevalent in Colombia than anywhere else. When looking at coronavirus samples that have been genetically sequenced, 39% of those analyzed in Colombia have been mu – though no mu samples have been recorded there in the past four weeks.
Research underway on reduced vaccine effectiveness
Mu is the fifth “variant of interest” to be monitored by WHO since March 2020 It “has a constellation of mutations” that suggest it may be more resistant to vaccines, the UN agency warned while stressing that more research would be needed to confirm this.
Preliminary data show reduced vaccine efficacy “similar to that observed for the Beta variant,” identified in South Africa. Messenger RNA vaccines remain 77% effective against the Beta variant.
WHO said it would monitor “the epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, for changes.
How dangerous is it?
The key questions are whether mu is more transmissible than the currently dominant variant, delta, and whether it can cause more severe disease.
Mu has a mutation called P681H, first reported in the alpha variant, that is potentially responsible for faster transmission. However, this study is still in preprint, meaning its findings have yet to be formally reviewed by other scientists. We can’t be sure of P681H’s effects on the virus’s behavior just yet.
Mu also has the mutations E484K and K417N, which are associated with being able to evade antibodies against the coronavirus – the evidence on this is more concrete. These mutations also occur in the beta variant, and so it’s possible that mu might behave like beta, which some vaccines are less effective against.
Can it escape vaccines?
Most COVID vaccines target the “spike protein” of the virus, which it uses to enter our cells. Our vaccines expose our bodies to a part of the virus, commonly the spike protein, so our immune system can learn to fight the virus off if it encounters it.
If a variant has significant changes in the spike protein, this may decrease the effectiveness of our vaccines.
The WHO said preliminary evidence suggests the Mu variant could partially evade the antibodies we get from vaccination.
COVID-19 “MU Variant
There is another variant of COVID-19 called the R1 variant. Click here to know about
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