COVID

What is Mu variant and where has it been detected in the USA?

The Mu variant has now been recorded in 47 US states with concern surrounding its vaccine evasion growing with the WHO adding it as a 'variant of interest.'

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What is Mu variant and where has it been detected in the USA?
VANESSA JIMENEZ AFP

A new variant of covid-19, which the World Health organization's have suggested could have natural immunity to vaccines, has spread across the US with cases confirmed in 47 states, according to latest data released by Outbreak.info.

The so-called B.1.621 variant by scientists, was first discovered in Colombia and since then has spread to at least 39 countries including the US. The variant not causing alarm in many nations with cases having decreased below 0.1 per cent in Colombia and Ecuador, it has dangerously increased according to the WHO’s latest investigations in other areas.

Nebraska, Vermont, South Dakota free of the variant

Presently, the Mu variant has been detected in 47 states, as well as DC in Columbia. Nevertheless, Nebraska, Vermont and South Dakota are reportedly free of the variant as no cases having been confirmed to date. Mu is most prevalent in Alaska with 4 per cent— 139 cases— out of the 3,837 reported covid patients. However, the highest raw numbers are seen in the state of California, where cases top 232 out of the 139,930 patients diagnosed.

However, despite the areas of concern, the Mu variant only accounts for less than 1 per cent of the covid-19 cases reported around the country still some way behind dominant U.S. variant "Delta".

Fauci believes B.1.621 is no threat for the states

"The Mu variant does not represent an immediate threat to the US," President Joe Biden's chief medical officer Anthony Fauci said at a press conference Thursday.

"This variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies but vaccine- and convalescent serum-induced antibodies," Fauci added. "But there isn't a lot of clinical data to suggest that. It is mostly laboratory in-vitro data."

Moreover, he emphasized the fact that WHO officials are aware of the future possible threats that could come with the spread and therefore are "keeping a very close eye" on the situation.

Mu, the new variant on the WHO's list of interest

The international health organization said Tuesday the new variant was added to the WHO's list of interest in Aug. 30.

In its weekly bulletin, the WHO also added that following the concerns on the Mu possible vaccine evasion, further studies will be done to investigate the issue.

"The variant contains genetic mutations that indicate natural immunity, current vaccines or monoclonal antibody treatments may not work as well against it as they do against the original ancestral virus," the WHO said. The mu strain needs further study to confirm whether it will prove to be more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments.