In news- The World Health Organization has recently named a new “variant of interest” (VoI) of the coronavirus, called the Mu variant. The four other VoI are Eta, Iota, Kappa and Lambda.
About the Mu variant-
- It was first found in Colombia in January 2021, and has been found in about 39 countries so far.
- The genomic structure of the Mu variant is different from the original strain of the virus.
- It has changes, called mutations and might be able to evade some of the protection we get from COVID vaccines.
- If there’s good evidence Mu is more serious and beginning to overtake other variants such as Delta, it might be upgraded to a “variant of concern”.
- The four variants of concern (VoC) are Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
- Mu is defined by at least nine identified mutations in the spike protein — T95I, Y144S, Y145N, R346K, E484K, N501Y, D614G, P681H and D950N.
- Of these, E484K and N501Y are the ones that are of special concern as they have been associated with immune escape and increased transmission in previously identified variants.
- Three of the four VoC (Alpha, Beta and Gamma) have both these mutations.