New Delhi: The World Health Organisation reported a plateauing of the number of new Covid cases globally even as India, it said, was among few nations that saw a surge last week.
The WHO also classified a fifth “variant of interest” detected in Colombia, which presented immune escape potential.
Based on the latest round of risk assessment, the WHO said a new variant, B.1.621, has been classified as a variant of interest and includes the descendent Pango lineage B.1.621.1. “The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO said. It, however, said further studies were needed to confirm this.
Another covid ‘variant of interest’ detected
- The WHO has classified Mu, detected in Colombia, as fifth variant of interest (VOI)
- Others are Eta (originated in multiple countries), Lota (US), Kappa (India) and Lambda (Peru)
- VOIs can affect transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic escape
Since its first identification in Colombia in January 2021, there had been a few sporadic reports of cases of the Mu variant and some larger outbreaks in other countries in South America and Europe, WHO experts said.
As of August 29, over 4,500 sequences (3,794 sequences of B.1.621 and 856 of B.1.621.1) have been uploaded to the global Covid sequencing network from 39 countries.
Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1 per cent, the prevalence in Colombia (39 per cent) and Ecuador (13 per cent) has consistently increased. More studies are required to understand the characteristics of this variant, the world body said, taking no chances with the spread of mutations given the rapid global spread of Delta earlier this year.
Meanwhile, with under 4.4 million new Covid cases reported week ending August 29, the WHO said the number of new cases globally appeared to be plateauing after having increased for two months. India was among the few nations to report a surge in new infections last week.
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the US (9,38,014 new cases; 8 per cent decrease), India (2,70,796 new cases; 17 per cent increase), Iran (2,54,753 new cases; similar to previous week), the UK (2,37,556 new cases; 8 per cent increase) and Brazil (1,75,807 new cases; 16 per cent decrease).
The number of deaths reported globally was also similar to last week, with just over 67,000 new deaths reported. Among the 4 variants of concern globally, Alpha variant has now been reported in 193 countries (one new country since last week), Beta in 141 countries (no new countries), Gamma in 91 countries (five new countries) and Delta in 170 countries (seven new countries).