WHO monitoring new variant of interest called 'Mu'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — Another coronavirus variant is now on the radar of the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Mu" or B.1.621 was first detected in Colombia in January, and classified by WHO as a Variant of Interest (VOI) on Monday.

"The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape," it said in a bulletin on Tuesday.

"Preliminary data showed it has the same behaviour as the Beta variant, but this needs to be confirmed by further studies," it added.

The international agency said the prevalence of this variant has declined globally, but it recorded that samples with the Mu variant is "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.