What is known about Mu, the variant circulating in the Dominican Republic?

The Ministry of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday the presence of the Mu variant in the Dominican territory, and although it is within the group classified as “of concern” for the World Health Organization (WHO), its characteristics are similar to those of Beta (first identified in South Africa), which is within the variants “of concern”.

The relationship between these mutations is covered in the 55th edition of WHO’s COVID-19 weekly epidemiological report, published on August 31.

“Preliminary data presented to the Virus Evolution Working Group show a reduction in neutralizing capacity of convalescent and vaccinated sera similar to that observed for the Beta variant,” the WHO states in the digital document.

However, they pointed out that additional studies are still required for confirmation.

“There is still no solid evidence to support these observations, so we must continue to monitor from the outside,” they say.

On the other hand, international media indicate that part of the concern generated by Mu comes from the mutations it carries.

Mu has the P681H mutation, which is found in the Alpha variant and is associated with faster transmission. Other mutations associated with Mu are E484K and K417N which may help the virus evade immune defenses.

The Mu variant was identified for the first time in January on Colombian soil, where 29% of the registered cases of the virulent disease in that country respond to this mutation, according to a publication on the United Nations (UN) portal, entitled: “Mu, the new variant of the coronavirus detected in Colombia”.

They also indicated that Mu, also known as B.1621, is circulating in 39 countries, including Ecuador, United Kingdom, United States and Hong Kong.

For the moment, the transmissibility of the new variant is being investigated by scientists, as well as its behavior in relation to the efficacy of vaccines.

In the case of the Dominican Republic, the Public Health authorities explained that B.1.621 was detected on May 10, although after that date no more cases have been identified.

The director of Epidemiology, Dr. Ronald Skewes, said that samples were sent to Brazil to find out if it is still circulating in the country.

Skewes revealed that Mu was detected in the provinces of Santo Domingo, Barahona, Bahoruco, Azua and La Vega.

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