New coronavirus variant classified as ‘of interest’ by WHO spreads in Colombia and Ecuador

The mutation has been registered in 39 different countries and will be monitored by the organization, and may earn a ‘concern’ stamp depending on the data

Carlos Ortega/Archive/EFEVariant has a high predominance in Colombia, which surpassed the mark of 100,000 killed by Covid-19

THE World Health Organization (WHO) classified this Wednesday, 1st, a new variant of the coronavirus with high prevalence in Colombia and in Ecuador as “of concern”. Called “Mu”, it was identified for the first time in January in Colombia, where it represents 39% of cases. In Ecuador, 13% of new infections are caused by the mutation. Despite being considered of concern, the sequencing of the variant at the international level indicated that, contrary to what occurs in both countries, the global prevalence of Mu has been reduced and now represents less than 0.1% of cases. With WHO considering the Mu variant, detected in 39 countries, as “of interest”, it should be monitored to detect mutations that could modify the form of transmission, make it more virulent or reduce the effectiveness of vaccines currently used to prevent the Covid-19.

Only if it shows changes, scientists will assess whether the mutation should be classified as a “concern variant”. Currently, four mutations are classified under this label by WHO: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The latter, first detected in India, is considered to be the most worrisome due to its ability to spread quickly and potentially cause more serious cases for Covid. With regard to Mu, WHO indicated in its latest epidemiological report that it recorded “some sporadic case reports and some large outbreaks in countries in South America and Europe”. Colombia has 4.91 million cases and 125,000 deaths caused by the disease since the beginning of the pandemic, and Ecuador has 501,000 cases and 32,000 deaths in the same period.

*With information from EFE