A new variant of the coronavirus, called “Mu” and discovered in Colombia last January, has been classified as “variant to follow” by the World Health Organization (WHO), she said on Tuesday night. See you on Wednesday.
In its weekly epidemiological bulletin on the evolution of the pandemic, the WHO explains that “although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among the sequenced cases has decreased and is currently less than 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia (39% ) and Ecuador (13%) has steadily increased ”
The UN specialist agency specifies that the variant has mutations that could indicate a risk of “immune escape” (resistance to vaccines), and stresses that additional studies are needed to better understand its characteristics.
The variant – B.1.621 according to scientific nomenclature – has so far been classified as a “variant to follow,” the WHO said. All viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 responsible for Covid-19, mutate over time. Most mutations have little or no effect on the properties of the virus.
However, certain mutations can affect the properties of the virus and influence, for example, how easily it spreads, the severity of the disease it causes, or the effectiveness of vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tools or other social and public health measures.
The appearance, at the end of 2020, of variants that presented an increased risk to global public health led the WHO to characterize variants to be monitored and variants of concern, in order to prioritize surveillance and research activities at the global level.
The WHO has decided to name the variants to follow or of concern using letters of the Greek alphabet, in order to avoid any stigmatization of a particular country and to make it easier for the general public to pronounce the names.
Currently, the WHO considers that four variants are of concern, including the Alpha variants, present in 193 countries, and Delta, present in 170 countries, while five other variants are to be monitored (including Mu).
The Mu variant was first detected in Colombia in January. It has since been reported in other South American countries and in Europe.