What is Mu mutation: All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, constantly change through mutations and new variants of a virus are expected to develop. Most mutations have almost little to no effect on the properties of the virus, but certain mutations can impact and influence how easily it spreads. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as “Mu”, which was first identified in Colombia in January, and has the potential to become more transmissible. Now, the global health body confirmed that they are yet to find out the severity of the disease it causes, however, noted that the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines.
So what is Mu mutation?
It is suspected that COVID-19 virus first emerged in Wuhan at the end of 2019. After spreading across countries, new variants have been evolving of the virus consistently. One of those is Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, which has been classified as a “variant of interest”. Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicates potential properties of immune escape.
This variant is expected to grow as there is widespread concern as it has the potential to make the jump in infection rates globally again. WHO mentioned that the mutated virus can be severe for those who are yet to be vaccinated. It also expressed special concern of people in regions where anti-virus measures have been relaxed. WHO also stressed on the need for further studies were to better understand the new coronavirus variant.
On August 31, the WHO said the variant has been detected in Colombia and has since been reported in other South American countries and in Europe. They have already identified 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. Virus mutations are classified as a variant of interest based on how easily they spread, how severe their symptoms are, and how they are treated. Read more on variants here.
Different variants use different techniques to keep on infecting but the WHO said Mu’s global prevalence has declined to below 0.1 percent among sequenced cases. In Colombia, however, it is at 39 percent.
Feature Image Credit: Scripps.org