The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday that the global public health agency is monitoring a new COVID-19 variant referred to as "Mu", first identified in Colombia at the beginning of this year. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday that the global public health agency is monitoring a new COVID-19 variant referred to as "Mu", first identified in Colombia at the beginning of this year. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday that the global public health agency is monitoring a new COVID-19 variant referred to as “Mu”, first identified in Colombia at the beginning of this year.

France 24 reports:

Mu, known scientifically as B.1.621, has been classified as a “variant of interest”, the global health body said Tuesday in its weekly pandemic bulletin. The WHO said the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it. […]  There is widespread concern over the emergence of new virus mutations as infection rates are ticking up globally again, with the highly transmissible Delta variant taking hold – especially among the unvaccinated – and in regions where anti-virus measures have been relaxed.

“Since its first identification in Colombia in January 2021, there have been a few sporadic reports of cases of the Mu variant and some larger outbreaks have been reported from other countries in South America and in Europe,” the WHO bulletin reads. “Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1 percent, the prevalence in Colombia (39 percent) and Ecuador (13 percent) has consistently increased.”

Presently, the WHO identifies four coronavirus variants of concern, such as Alpha, which the agency says exists in 193 countries. The Delta is present in 170 countries. The organization will now monitor “Mu,” in addition to the other four variants.

“Monitoring and assessment of variants is ongoing and critically important to understand the evolution of this virus, in fighting Covid and adapting strategies as needed,” the organization said.

Joshua Caplan