World health officials monitor new COVID variant named mu

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 12:12 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 12:13 PM AKDT
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(Gray News) - Researchers at the World Health Organization have their eyes on a new coronavirus variant called mu.

It was designated as a variant of interest (VOI) this week after first being found in samples at the beginning of the year, according to the WHO website.

“Since its first identification in Colombia in January 2021, there have been a few sporadic reports of cases of the mu variant and some larger outbreaks have been reported from other countries in South America and in Europe,” according to the COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update.

Overall, cases of the mu variant have dropped globally, but officials are concerned that its “prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has consistently increased.”

The weekly update says the newly classified variant is being monitored.

The mu variant is not as worrisome to the WHO as the highly contagious delta variant which makes up the majority of cases now sweeping the United States.

Delta is a variant of concern (VOC), a level above a VOI.

According to the WHO, a VOI becomes a VOC when one or more of the following changes happens:

  • An increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology
  • An increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation
  • A decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics

Up to this point, available vaccines have been largely effective against all COVID variants, but that could change with each additional variant.

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