Part of: Prelims and GS – II- Health
Context: WHO has classified yet another SARS-CoV-2 variant “B.1.621” as a variant of interest (VOI) and given it the label “Mu”.
- The variant was first identified in Colombia in January, 2021.
- The global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1%. However, prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has consistently increased.
- Larger outbreaks were reported from countries in South America and Europe.
- Cases have also been reported in the UK, US and Hong Kong.
Classes of SARS-CoV-2 variants
Variant of Interest
- A variant with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding which affect its diagnosis and are expected to cause unique outbreak clusters.
- It is known for it predicted increase in transmissibility.
- It is classified based on factors such as genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape etc.
- It represents a lower level of concern than a variant of concern (VOC).
Variant of Concern
- A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths).
- It is known for its significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.
- Example – Alpha, Beta and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2.