New Delhi: The Union government has said that no cases of 'MU' variant of coronavirus have been detected from over 51,000 samples analysed so far in India.
This new coronavirus variant 'MU' was identified first in Colombia in January. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the MU strain of coronavirus as a 'variant of interest'.
The Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Dr. Balram Bhargav said, "We are closely monitoring the new coronavirus 'Variants of Interest' named MU and no case has been detected so far in India".
The WHO has warned that the new MU variant shows signs of possible resistance to the vaccines. The WHO said in a statement, "Based on the latest round of assessments, B.1.621 was classified as a Variant of Interest on August 30 and given the WHO label MU".
Commenting on the MU variant, NITI Ayog Member (Health) Dr V.K. Paul said that government and health scientists are keeping a close watch on this variant of interest.
"It is a must to administer both doses of vaccine and follow the Covid appropriate behaviour to fight against any of the Covid variants.
The Mu variant
Mu, also known as B.1.621, was first identified from Colombia in January this year. Infections from Mu have since been recorded in South America and Europe. 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".
The strain has been found to be able to dodge antibodies produced through infection or vaccination, with WHO saying that preliminary data “show a reduction in neutralisation capacity of convalescent and vaccinee sera" although it noted that these findings need “to be confirmed by further studies".
Mu variant has various mutations which indicate that it could be more resistant to vaccines, similar to Beta variant, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.
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.
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 open-access database GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) from 39 countries.
The WHO said preliminary evidence suggests the Mu variant could partially evade the antibodies we get from vaccination.
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