The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring a new coronavirus variant that could potentially evade vaccine immunity.
The B.1.621 variant, also called Mu, was first reported in Colombia in January 2021. It has now been detected in 39 countries and was added to the WHO coronavirus watchlist on Monday.
“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO said in its weekly bulletin. “Preliminary data presented to the Virus Evolution Group show a reduction in neutralization capacity of convalescent and vaccine sera similar to that seen for the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies.”
Almost 2,000 cases of the Mu variant have been reported in the U.S., according to outbreak.info. South Dakota and Nebraska are the only states that haven’t had any infections.
“At the moment, it looks like there’s genuine cause for concern in USA, Central America, and South America, but as we saw with Delta, a potent variant can traverse the globe in the blink of an eye,” Danny Altmann, an immunology expert at Imperial College London, told the Telegraph.
The WHO did not say whether the Mu variant is deadlier or more easily transmissible than others.
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Harry Wilmerding on September 2, 2021
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