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COVID-19 Explainer: What Is The New Covid Variant “Mu”? WHO Warns It Could Be More Resistant To Vaccines

Mu variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Colombia and has been reported in other South American countries and in Europe. As of now, no cases of Mu variant have been reported in India

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COVID-19 Explainer: What Is The New Covid Variant "Mu”? WHO Warns It Could Be More Resistant To Vaccines
Highlights
  • Mu variant was first identified in Columbia
  • The variant has been identified as variant of interest by WHO
  • As of now, no cases of Mu variant have been reported in India

New Delhi: World Health Organisation has designated a new coronavirus strain known as “Mu”, which was first identified in Colombia in January, as a variant of interest on Tuesday (September 1). After being detected in Colombia, Mu, has since been reported in other South American countries and in Europe.

Also Read: The Kerala And Delhi Factor: How Can We Tame The Third Covid Wave? Experts Explain

Here’s what we know about the new strain:

  • The Mu variant is scientifically known as B.1.621. It was classified as a variant of interest in August 2021
  • According to WHO, Mu variant’s global prevalence has declined to below 0.1 percent among sequenced cases. However, in Colombia, it is at 39 percent
  • WHO also said that the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it

Also Read: Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections Found In 25 Per Cent Healthcare Staff: Study

Has India Reported Any Cases Of Mu Variant?

Along with Mu variant, which has already been classified by the WHO, another variant C.1.2 has also been detected in the world by the South African scientist. C.1.2 is not a single virus but a clustering of genetically similar viruses, it is not classified as either a variant of interest or a variant of concern by the WHO. None of these variants has been detected in India as of now.

Also Read: No Case Of C.1.2 Covid Variant In India So Far, Say Government Sources

Why New Variants Of COVID-19 Are Emerging?

WHO says that all viruses – including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – evolve over time. It adds, when a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit, which is normal for a virus. These changes are called “mutations”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus.

What Causes A Virus To Change To A New Variant?

According to WHO, when a virus is widely circulating in a population and causing many infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more it replicates – and the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.

WHO and healthcare experts recommend same protective measures to help stop COVID19 and its new variants:

  • Washing hands
  • Staying at least 1 metre apart
  • Wearing masks
  • Limiting time in or avoiding enclosed/crowded spaces

What Experts Have To Say About COVID-19 New Variants

Dr Aviral Vatsa, Physician, NHS, Scotland, UK says,

We need to remember that the more the transmission is, more chances of new variants emerging, and spreading. So, if a country has high rate of infections, then it is a cause of great concern.

Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, Epidemiologist and Health Systems specialist, said,

Currently, there are certain things, which we don’t have answers for. Things like the natural immunity among people against the virus and how fast or slow it will decline and what all new variants will emerge in the near future. Since we cannot do much about these factors the only thing in our hand is the first two options – follow the Covid appropriate behaviour and getting vaccinated. Currently, these two tools are the key in fighting this battle against the virus.

Also Read: Covid Breakthrough Cases Within Expected Numbers, Says Government Panel

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

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