The World Health Organization has a close eye on a new COVID-19 variant: Mu.
Also known as B.1.621, mu was first discovered in South America.
The WHO has categorized the mu strain as a “variant of interest” in this week’s epidemiological update.
The WHO found that the “variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape.” It also showed the potential of neutralizing the capacities of antibodies from either a previous COVID-19 illness or a vaccine. That means it is not yet known if it will be able to avoid the protections that a vaccine or previous illness provides.
Click here to download the report.
Despite the indications listed in the report, the WHO said more studies are needed.
Mu was first discovered in Colombia in January and has been found in other countries in South America and in Europe.
The number of Mu cases worldwide is low, below 0.1% but in Colombia and Ecuador the numbers have increased to 39% and 13% of cases respectively, the report stated.
According to the BBC’s Science Focus magazine, there have been 48 cases of the mu variant in the UK.
Scientists with the WHO are also keeping an eye on mu and how it is circulating with the delta variant.
It is one of five variants that is being watched right now, The Washington Post reported.
Variant spread worldwide (who.int)
As of Wednesday, mu is categorized as a “variant of interest” but could be increased to a “variant of concern” which is currently how alpha, beta, gamma and delta are labeled.
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