Eight months after being first detected in Colombia, Mu SARS-CoV-2 or the "Mu" mutation of COVID-19 has been identified as a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization. As a result, WHO will monitor its potential spread in the coming weeks. In the past, Eta, Iota, Kappa and Lambda variants of COVID-19 have been identified as VOIs, but Mu stands out as potentially being vaccine-resistant.
"[Mu] has been designated as a Variant of Interest as it has some mutations that need to be studied for their potential impact on the body’s immune response. Data shared with the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group indicate that immunity developed through prior infection or vaccination may not be as strong against this variant. More studies are needed to confirm this," a statement from WHO obtained by The Hill reads.
"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 neutralization capacity of convalescent and vaccine sera [sic] similar to that seen for the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies."
Fortunately, the Mu variant has steadily declined in many areas of the world. However, WHO did note that "its prevalence in Colombia and Ecuador been increasing."
"The circulation of the Mu variant has been declining globally, and less than 0.1% of currently shared sequences are of this variant," the statement adds.
"However, its prevalence in Colombia and Ecuador been increasing in recent weeks. WHO will closely follow the epidemiological evolution of this variant, along with studies on its impact."
As the Mu variant spreads across the northern tip of South America, the United States continues to battle the Delta variant. Much like Mu, the Delta variant started off as a "variant of concern" before becoming a "variant of concern" by May.