International COVID 19 Another Covid-19 variant, 'Mu' with increased immunity escape, potential concern: EU agency

Another Covid-19 variant, ‘Mu’ with increased immunity escape, potential concern: EU agency

There are five variants of interests, Eta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Mu.

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The Hague — A coronavirus variant known as “Mu” may be a cause for concern, said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday (Sept 9).

First identified in Colombia in Jan 2021, the Mu variant, or scientifically called B.1.621, was added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) variants of interests on Aug 30, 2021.

On top of focusing on the highly infectious Delta variant, the EMA is “looking into other variants that might be spreading”, such as Mu, with the potential of becoming a concern due to its higher resistance against antibodies in vaccines.

“The Mu one being potentially more of concern because of the potential increased immune escape that it may show,” said the Amsterdam-based regulator’s vaccines strategy chief Marco Cavaleri.

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The EMA, which checks medicines for EU nations, will discuss with vaccine developers regarding the efficacy of vaccines against the Mu variant, said Mr Cavaleri in a France 24 report.

“However, I have to say that we don’t have yet data that would show that the Mu variant is spreading that much and whether it will have any chance to overtake the Delta variant as a dominant strain,” he added.

The Mu variant is present in 39 countries worldwide and 49 states in the United States.

According to WHO, Mu’s prevalence has declined to below 0.1 per cent among sequenced cases, although it is at 39 per cent in Columbia.

To date, the WHO has four variants of concern, namely the Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants.

The Alpha and Delta variants are currently present in 193 and 170 countries, respectively.

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Mutations are first categorized as variants of interests before being tagged as a concern should they pose increased risks.

There are five variants of interests, Eta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Mu.

Variants of concern have increased transmissibility or detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, increased virulence, or decreased effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, said WHO. /TISG

Read related: New Covid-19 variant with multiple mutations sparking concerns

New Covid-19 variant with multiple mutations sparking concerns

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