• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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COVID-19: WHO identifies new variant of concern

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified a potentially dangerous new variant of COVID-19 called ‘Mu’, with concerns that it could be more resistant to vaccines.

In its epidemiological update, the organisation expressed concern that the variant has shown some resistance to the COVID-19 vaccines, but said more studies are required to make an informed conclusion.

The ‘Mu’ variant with scientific name B.1.621, was originally identified in Colombia, South America, in January. It has so far been detected in 39 countries around the world except Africa.

The variant has been found to possess a cluster of mutations that may make it less susceptible to the immune protection many have acquired through inoculation, but more studies are needed in order to reach a conclusive diagnosis.

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It now accounts for around 40 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Colombia, and 13 percent of all cases in neighbouring Ecuador, according to the WHO.

Cases have been reported in the UK where at least 32 identified, as well as in the US, France and Hong Kong. A total of 79 cases of new COVID variant ‘Mu’ have been detected in France.

“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.

“Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1%, the prevalence in Colombia (39 percent) and Ecuador (13 percent) has consistently increased.

“The epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes,” the world health body said in the update.