Mu variant: Newly classified by WHO as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of interest

What is the News?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified yet another SARS-CoV-2 variant — B.1.621 — as a variant of interest (VOI) and given it the label “Mu”. 

About Mu Variant

Mu Variant was first seen in Colombia in January 2021 when it was given the designation B1621. 

It has since been detected in 40 countries, but it is currently responsible for only 0.1% of infections globally.

However, the prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has consistently increased.

What is a Variant of Interest (VoI)?

WHO classifies a variant as a Variant of Interest(VoI) if:

  1. The variant is predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; and 
  2. Identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters in multiple countries alongside the increasing number of cases over time or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health.  

Note: A VOI represents a lower level of concern than a variant of concern (VOC) such as Alpha, Beta or Delta which are associated with factors such as an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in epidemiology.

Source: This post is based on the article “Mu variant: Newly classified by WHO as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of interest” published in Indian Express on 4th September 2021.

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