Geneva: The World Health Organisation(WHO) has said that it is monitoring the new strain of COVID-19 commonly known as “Mu,” for vaccine resistance. According to the health body, Mu has been classified as the variant of interest(VOI). The new coronavirus variant was first identified in Colombia in January.Also Read - Coronavirus Will be With Us For a Long Time, Make No Mistake, Says World Health Organisation

The cases of Mu, scientifically known as B.1.621, have been recorded in South America and Europe. The World Health Organisation in its weekly epidemiological bulletin said that the variant Mu has various mutations which indicate a sign of resistance to vaccines, similar to the Beta variant. Based on the latest round of assessments, B.1.621 was classified as a VOI on 30 August 2021 and given the WHO label “Mu”. Also Read - 'COVID 19 is Not an Airborne Disease', Says World Health Organisation

“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape. Preliminary data presented to the Virus Evolution Working Group show a reduction in neutralisation capacity of convalescent and vaccine sera similar to that seen for the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies,” the UN health agency said. As of August 29, over 4,500 sequences (3,794 sequences of B.1.621 and 856 sequences of B.1.621.1) have been uploaded to the open-access database GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) from 39 countries. Also Read - World Health Organisation Includes Gaming Disorder As Mental Health Condition in International Classification of Diseases

While the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1 per cent, the prevalence in Colombia (39 per cent) and Ecuador (13 per cent) has consistently increased, the WHO said.” The epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes,” the health agency added. There are four coronavirus variants of concern, as deemed by the WHO, with the Alpha variant — first recorded in Kent, England — seen in 193 countries, Beta in 141, Gamma in 91 and Delta in 170 countries, while Mu is the fifth variant of interest.

(With Inputs from IANS)