NewsCoronavirus: WHO classifies Mu as a "variant of interest"...

Coronavirus: WHO classifies Mu as a "variant of interest" – and now?

The Coronavirus variant Mu has been classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization. What does that mean?

Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) classified another variant of the coronavirus as a “variant of interest” on Monday (08/30/21). It is the virus mutation B.1.621 (also called My) known as Mu, which was first discovered in Colombia in January 2021. “The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that reveal the risk of an immune-evasive property,” said the WHO, according to the German Press Agency (dpa).

Specifically, this means: There should be signs that the antibodies in recovered corona patients or vaccinated persons may be less effective against the Mu variant than against other virus variants. Further tests are required for a definitive statement. Genetic studies of the virus are available from 39 countries. According to current WHO estimates, the share of the variant worldwide is only 0.1 percent. So far, the Mu variant has been detected in some countries in South America and Europe, the dpa continues.

Coronavirus Mutation Mu: What is a “Variant of Interest”?

The Mu variant is the fifth SARS-CoV-2 variant, which the WHO has classified as a “variant of interest” (VOI). The other VOI are Eta, Jota, Kappa, and Lambda (all named after the Greek alphabet). The WHO named these virus mutations as VOI because – it is predicted or known – that the genetically modified virus properties could have an impact on the transferability , severity of the disease , immune termination or diagnostic or therapeutic escape.

In addition, these virus variants have been identified as indicating an emerging risk to global public health . Because they caused, for example, a significant transmission in the community or several COVID-19 clusters – in several countries with a simultaneous increase in the number of cases over time. Other obvious epidemiological impacts are also taken into account in the classification.

Coronavirus: The Difference Between “Variants Of Interest” And “Concerning Variants”

The definition of the VOI variants can be viewed as a preliminary stage of the so-called Worrying Variants (VOC). Because VOCs are those variants of the coronavirus that correspond to the definition of a VOI and have also been proven by a comparative assessment, as the WHO writes, that they are associated with one or more of the following changes of global importance for public health:

  • Increasing the portability or adversely changing the COVID-19 epidemiology; or
  • Increase in virulence or change in the clinical picture of the disease; or
  • Decrease in the effectiveness of public health and social interventions or available diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics

These four variations of the Sars-Cov-2 virus are currently considered to be VOCs: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, with the Delta variant currently being the most common coronavirus variant in Europe. If the tests with the Mu variant confirm the assumption that there is a risk of the immune-evasive property, this variant could also be classified as worrying. (smf)

Tracking of SARS-CoV-2 variants

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been monitoring all Sars-Cov-2 variants since the outbreak of the corona pandemic, because viruses change over time. The WHO classifies the variants that can permanently change the course of the pandemic into different categories. There are the “worrisome variants” and the “variants of interest”. After a classification by the WHO, various measures by the WHO and countries are to follow. To make this possible, the WHO publishes weekly Covid-19 reports.

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