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Mu variant of coronavirus

General Studies-3

Topics Covered: Issues related to biotechnology.


Context: World Health Organization (WHO) has classified another SARS-CoV-2 variant — B.1.621as a variant of interest (VOI) and has called it Mu variant.


  • The four other variants of interest are Eta, Iota, Kappa and Lambda.
  • Mu variant was first found in Colombia in January 2021, and has been found in about 39 countries so far.
  • There have been few reported cases of the Mu variant and some larger outbreaks have been reported from countries in South America and in Europe.


What is Variant of interest (VOI)

  • A VOI is classified based on factors such as genetic changes that affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape etc.
  • A VOI represents a lower level of concern than a variant of concern (VOC) such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma and
  • Variant of concern are associated with factors such as an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in epidemiology, etc.


How do variants of a virus emerge and why?

  • Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.
  • Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.
  • Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.

What is a mutation?

  • A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
  • In the case of SARS-CoV-2,which is a Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
  • mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.



Prelims Link:

  1. Variants of Coronavirus
  2. What is Variant of interest (VOI)?
  3. What is Variant of Concern (VOC)?
  4. What is Mutation?

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with mutations of Covid- 19 virus.

Source: Indian Express