DOH: Mu variant seen to cause more severe COVID-19 infection, but more studies needed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday said initial studies show the highly transmissible "Mu" variant may lead to more severe COVID-19 infections, but more studies are needed to fully establish the impact of the variant being monitored by the World Health Organization.

Aside from this, she said Mu or B.1.621 has the characteristic of immune and therapeutic escape.

"Ang sinasabi nila marami siyang types of mutations. Ang sabi ganoon din ang transmissibility, mataas din. Also, sinasabi it can also affect immunity of a person... Sinasabi rin na ang nagkakaroon ng ganitong sakit might lead to more severe forms of infection, but lahat ng ito initial pa lang ang pag-aaral at mga information na binigay ng WHO," she said in a media briefing.

[Translation: They're saying it has many types of mutations, high transmissibility, affect the immunity of a person. They're also saying carrying the Mu variant might lead to more severe forms of infection. but these are based on initial studies and information provided by the WHO.]

The Philippines has no detected cases of Mu, but health authorities are already on alert. It has been found in over 40 countries, said Vergeire, who is also the Department of Health's spokesperson.

Mu was first detected in Colombia in January and classified by WHO as a Variant of Interest (VOI) this week.

WHO said the variant has a "constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape."

The international agency said the prevalence of this variant has declined globally, but that samples with the Mu variant are "consistently" increasing in Colombia and Ecuador.

A VOI is designated as a variant of concern (VOC) if it has been proven to be associated with increased transmissibility, increased virulence, and/or decrease in effectiveness of vaccines and medical treatments.

The Philippines has detected thousands of cases of all four VOCs, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, which is now the most dominant variant in the country.