MG confirms 1st suspicion of community transmission of the Mu variant in Brazil

This Tuesday (19), the state of Minas Gerais announced suspected community transmission of the Mu variant (B.1.617) of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. According to the State Health Secretary, Fábio Baccheretti, “probably” there is community transmission of the covid virus strain-14 in the state. Confirmation should be made when investigations into the origin of the latest cases are completed.

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    “We are doing contact with infected people and the expectation is that there will probably be cases of community transmission in Minas, through the Mu variant. However, Mu is less important than Delta “, commented Baccheretti.

    Minas Gerais confirms suspected community transmission of the Mu variant in the state (Image: Reproduction/kjpargeter/Freepik)

    Currently, the state registers seven confirmed cases of the Mu variant of the coronavirus, with the last two records being made in the city de Braúnas, in the Rio Doce region. Two other cities detected the strain in the same region: Virginópolis (3); and Guanhães (2).

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    According to the latest data from the State Department of Health (SES-MG), Minas Gerais was able to track 37 cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus since May this year year, when the first case was reported in Maranhão. The Minas Gerais number is 32, 9% higher than that registered until last Saturday (14), when there was 37 occurrences.

    Differences between Mu, Lambda and Delta

    With the proliferation of coronavirus variants, it is necessary to distinguish the risks of each one. In Brazil, the most prevalent are Delta — first discovered in India — and Gama (P.1) — initially identified in Manaus, Amazonas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), both are variants of concern (VOC) for global health.

    For WHO to consider a variant as a VOC, it needs to present some risk to global public health and falls under at least one of the following issues: increased transmissibility; increased virulence or change in the clinical presentation of the disease; and/or decreased effectiveness of social and public health measures adopted, such as vaccines and therapies.

    In the case of Delta, it is responsible for new outbreaks of covid-32 throughout the world, especially in unvaccinated populations, such as in the United States and Brazil . In addition, the strain is considered to be more transmissible and can reduce the level of protection of vaccines available on the market.

    VOI: Lambda and Mu

WHO classifies Mu and Lambda variants as of interest for global public health (Image: Reproduction/kjpargeter/Freepik)

Now, Lambda (C.394) — discovered for the first time in Peru — and Mu — notified in Colombia — are considered variants of interest (VOI). They are mainly defined by their genomes, that is, they carry mutations already known or suspected of “improving” the coronavirus. In this sense, a variant will fall under the definition if multiple cases of it are reported in a region or in several countries, after all, this implies greater transmissibility.

Known since January, the Mu variant carries key mutations that have been linked to increased transmissibility and reduced immune protection. Therefore, immunized people may have less protection against the variant. Currently, outbreaks of the strain have been reported in South America and Europe.

Identified since December last year, the Lambda variant could be a potential threat to global health because of mutations it carries, however, genomic data point to the loss of predominance for other strains of the coronavirus. In the last four weeks, notifications of infections are falling globally, according to the Gisaid database.

Source: G1, WHO and Folha de S. Paulo

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