Cases of new Mu variant of coronavirus have now been found in Scotland
Three cases of a new strain of Covid has been found in Scotland, according to a recent report by the UK Government.
On Friday (September 3) a report published by the UK Government said that three "confirmed and probable cases of the Mu variant" had been detected in Scotland. In addition to the three found here, a total of 53 reported cases have been found across the whole of the UK.
The variant, first identified in Colombia in January 2021, has since spread to 39 countries including the United States, parts of South America and all across Europe.
Despite fears of more variants, experts believe the newly-identified strain may not pose a major threat and that any impact on vaccine resistance "needs to be confirmed by further studies".
The news comes ahead of a vote set to take place today regarding the vaccine certificates as mentioned by Nicola Sturgeon during her speech yesterday (September 8).
The Mu variant, known as B.1.621, was labelled as a 'variant of interest' by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week meaning that the strain has genetic differences to other known variants and is causing infections in multiple countries and as a result, may pose a threat to public health.
Despite being labelled as of 'interest', it has not yet been deemed a 'variant of concern' meaning it has been proven to be more dangerous to the public.
The WHO said: "Although the global prevalence of the Mu variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1%, the prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has consistently increased.
"Since its first identification 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 epidemiology of the Mu variant in South America, particularly with the co-circulation of the Delta variant, will be monitored for changes."
The WHO added that Mu is a "constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape" - in other words, it has the hallmarks of being able to get around existing vaccine protection.
But Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told iNews: "I'm hoping that it's not the new disaster that's worse than Delta.
"This one has the look of an immune-evasive variant about it, but quite often we don't know what that means in the heat of battle until we do the hard-nosed experiments to look at how it fares in vaccinated people, and that hasn't been done yet for this variant."
He added: "Looking at the numbers in the UK, it looks to me like you've got such a world-champion dominant variant at the moment in Delta, that it's quite hard to displace, and it doesn’t look like this one is in a position to displace it.
"I think we'll see it percolating in low-numbers clusters in the UK, for example where you've got people who have come into the country from south or central America, but I can't see it having a big impact here on Delta cases."
The number of total confirmed cases of the Mu Covid variant in the UK:
- Scotland: 3
- England: 47
- Wales: 1
- Northern Ireland: 2
The full report can be found here.