Argentine health authorities have detected the first case of the coronavirus Mu variant in the country, it was announced Friday.
The patient is a 33-year-old woman living in a place called San Martín, in the north of the Province of Salta. The woman has reportedly received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Paula Herrera, head of the Salta Health Care-Associated Infections Program, explained 27 new cases had been reported altogether. One of them belonged to the Mu strain, while 11 were of Gamma variant, 1 for Alpha and 14 for Lambda. And none of Delta.
Variants of concern detected in the Bolivia-neighboring province were Delta (one case), Gamma (68) and Alpha (13); while those of interest are Zeta (1), Lambda (61), in addition to the newest Mu infection.
Herrera also said the 33-year-old patient presented mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization. “Mu is under surveillance by the WHO to define its implications. It has not yet demonstrated impact in terms of severity or lethality of coronavirus. For now, it is known that it is effective for available vaccines,” Herrera told Télam.
Mu is said to be potentially more worrisome, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), although the body declined to specify whether it will overtake Delta.
Mu “could potentially be of more concern because it could show a possible risk of immunoevasion, or resistance to vaccines, said Marco Cavaleri, head of EMA's vaccine strategy. But we do not have data to show that the Mu variant spreads as widely or that it has a chance of overtaking the Delta variant as the dominant strain, he went on.
Mu has been classified as a variant of interest” by the World's Health Organization (WHO) since August 31. The variant carries mutations that could indicate a risk of immune escape or resistance to vaccines, and further studies will be required to understand its characteristics, it was reported.
”Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has decreased and is currently less than 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has steadily increased,” according to a WHO report.