Mu variant from South America – will it replace Delta?

The corona virus continues to mutate in different countries and continents. Some of these virus variants are harmless and of little consequence, other mutations are observed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or classified as alarming. The mu or my variant from Colombia is already on the radar of the WHO.

The virus variant Mu (B.1.162) has been under observation (Variant of Interest/VOI) by the WHO since September. Mutations of the  coronavirus are under observation which, due to their structural change, have the potential for global spread, but currently only occur in certain regions.

Mu variant: This is behind the mutation

The Mu variant has already been detected in 39 countries, and the virus variant has also occurred occasionally in Germany. B.1.162 was registered in Colombia in January 2021 – since then it has been responsible for the high rate of infection in the South American country.

Changes at the end of the virus proteins, the receptors (binding sites of the cells) and the spike protein of the virus, which make it easier for the virus to dock onto human cells, make the Mu variant particularly dangerous.

In relation to the wild strain of the coronavirus, the Mu variant

  • 10 times more resistant to antibodies from recovered,
  • 9.1 times more resistant to BioNTech/Pfizer vaccination,
  • and thus responsible for a higher number of breakthrough infections.

In addition, the variant is more infectious than the wild type, which allows the virus to spread more quickly.

Since the virus variant has not yet been able to assert itself against other types prevalent in South America, scientists do not assume that Mu will replace the delta variant in the future. However, further characterization and monitoring of the Mu mutation is justified due to the high prevalence in Colombia and the immune escape, i.e. the delayed and poorer immune response by vaccinated and recovered people.

 

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