NICD urges people to get vaccinated while it monitors COVID variant Mu

The World Health Organisation recently classified the Pango lineage b.1.621 as a variant of interest and assigned it the Greek name Mu.

FILE: The variant was first detected in January in Colombia and has since spread to many other countries. Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Monday it was watching developments around a new COVID-19 variant called "Mu".

The World Health Organisation recently classified the Pango lineage b.1.621 as a variant of interest and assigned it the Greek name Mu.

The variant was first detected in January in Colombia and has since spread to many other countries.

“A variant that has started to dominate in South America, Colombia, Peru, all of those kinds of countries, but we haven't yet picked it up in South Africa. We suspect that it has a higher level of compatibility than for example, the Beta and the Alpha,” said the institute's Dr Jinal Bhiman.

She said both vaccines that were currently being rolled out in South Africa had high levels of protection against death and severe disease requiring hospitalisation.

“People should finally get vaccinated, people should continue wearing the mask and following COVID protocol. Because all these things work, even against all the new variants that are coming up,” she added.

The jabs also offer protection against variants of interest such as Beta and Delta and therefore are also likely to have an effect against Mu.

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