SA has no cases of the new ‘Mu’ Covid-19 variant, says NICD
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Cape Town – The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Monday, there have been no cases of the new Covid-19 variant scientifically known as B.1.621 or ‘Mu’ detected in South Africa or on the African continent.
The Mu variant which was first identified in Colombia in January has recently been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a statement the NICD said they continuously and rigorously monitor SARS-CoV-2 sequences circulating in South Africa. This work is crucial in the early detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Mu.
“This variant will likely, therefore, have similar properties to other variants of concerns like Beta and Delta with increased transmissibility and reduced sensitivity to antibodies in vaccines and those who have recovered from Covid-19.
“Nevertheless, both vaccines that are currently being rolled out in South Africa have high levels of protection against severe disease requiring hospitalisation and death even against VOI/VOCs (variant of interest/variant of concern) such as Beta and Delta and therefore will likely also protect against Mu,” the NICD said.
Since being discovered in Colombia in January, the Mu variant has been detected in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Currently, it accounts for less than 1% of the globally circulating viruses with Delta accounting for 88%.
WHO names five variants, including Mu, as variants of concern, which are more easily transmitted, affect severity of disease or evade tests, vaccines or treatments: Alpha or B.1.1.7; Beta or B.1.351; Gamma or P.1; and Delta or B.1.617.2.