The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, known colloquially as the “coronavirus.”
The newest variant, called “Mu” and known by its technical name B.1.621, was first discovered in Columbia in January of this year.
It was designated as a WHO Variant of Interest (VOI) on August 30 after it was identified in 39 countries and found to have mutations that could realistically escape immune protection offered by vaccine.
Thus far, the Mu variant has been discovered in the UK, European Union nations, the United States and Hong Kong, in addition to Ecuador and Columbia, where it was first identified.
There have been large outbreaks of new variant in South America and Europe; it is currently responsible for 32 cases of COVID-19 in Britain. The prevalence of the Mu variant is currently standing at 39 percent in Columbia – where it was first identified — and 13 percent in Ecuador.
The Mu variant “has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO warned in its weekly COVID-19 pandemic bulletin.
The international health organization added that “The epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes. . .Immune escape may contribute to future changes in growth.”
The ‘Mu’ variant has not yet appeared in Israel.
As of September 1, 2021, some 4.52 million people worldwide have died because of COVID-19. There have been some 218 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide.
At least 7,043 Israelis have lost their lives to COVID-19.