The WHO (World Health Organization) reported in the weekly epidemiological bulletin about the Covid-19, on Tuesday night (31), which included a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, dubbed Mu, in the list of ‘variants of interest’. The variation was first found in Colombia in January 2021.
The concern is because the variant has mutations that could indicate resistance to the vaccines and more studies are needed to understand its characteristics, explained the organization.
All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19, mutate over time, and most have little or no impact on virus characteristics. However, some mutations can affect the properties of the virus and influence, for example, the ability to spread, the severity of the disease it causes or the effectiveness of vaccines, drugs or other measures to combat it.
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The emergence in 2020 of variants that presented an aggravated risk to global public health led WHO to characterize them as “of concern” or “concerning” in order to prioritize surveillance and research activities at the global level.
The organization adopted the letters of the Greek alphabet to name the variants and thus facilitate identification for the non-scientific public and avoid the stigmatization associated with the country of origin.
Four of the variants were classified by WHO as “worrying”, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. While five were classified as “of interest”: Eta (detected in several countries in December 2020), Iota (found in the US in November 2020), Kappa (detected in India in October 2020), Lambda (found in Peru in December 2020) and now the Mu.
The new strain of interest was detected in Colombia last January and has since been found in other South American countries. In addition, outbreaks of Mu and B.1,621 have also been reported in parts of the US and Europe.
“Although the overall prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently less than 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has steadily increased,” noted WHO.
“The reported prevalence must be interpreted with due consideration of sequencing capabilities and sequence sharing opportunity, which vary in both countries. Further studies are needed to understand the phenotypic and clinical characteristics of this variant. The epidemiology of Mu in South America needs to be monitored, particularly, with Delta’s co-circulation”, completes the Organization in the report.
covid-19 worldwide data
The epidemiological bulletin reported 4.4 million new cases reported worldwide in the week of August 23-29). The rate remains similar to the previous week, after increasing for almost two months (since mid-June).
Last week, all regions reported a decline (Africa, Americas) or a similar trend (Europe, Southeast Asia, Eastern Mediterranean) in new cases, with the exception of the Western Pacific Region, which reported a 7% increase over the week. previous.
The number of deaths recorded globally this week was also similar to last week, with just over 67,000 new deaths reported. The Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific regions reported increases in weekly deaths, 9% and 16%, respectively, while the Southeast Asia Region recorded the largest reduction (20%).
The cumulative number of reported cases worldwide is nearly 216 million and the cumulative number of deaths is just under 4.5 million.