SARS-CoV-2 Mu variant

The Mu variant, also known as lineage B.1.621 or VUI-21JUL-1, is one of the variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was first detected in Colombia in January 2021 and was designated by the WHO as a variant of interest on August 30, 2021.[1] The WHO said the variant has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to the current vaccines and stressed that further studies were needed to better understand it.[2][3] Outbreaks of the Mu variant were reported in South America and Europe.[4] The B.1.621 lineage has a sublineage, labeled B.1.621.1 under the PANGO nomenclature, which has already been detected in more than 20 countries worldwide.[5]

Under the simplified naming scheme proposed by the World Health Organization, B.1.621 was labeled "Mu variant", and was considered a variant of interest (VOI), but not a variant of concern.[1]



In January 2021, the lineage was first documented in Colombia and was named as lineage B.1.621.[6]

On July 1, 2021, Public Health England (PHE) named lineage B.1.621 VUI-21JUL-1.[7]

On August 30, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) named lineage B.1.621 Mu variant.[1]


The Mu genome has a total number of 21 mutations, including 9 amino acid mutations, all of which are in the virus's spike protein code: T95I, Y144S, Y145N, R346K, E484K or the escape mutation, N501Y, D614G, P681H, and D950N.[8] It has an insertion of one amino acid at position 144/145 of the spike protein, giving a total mutation YY144–145TSN. That mutation is conventionally notated as Y144S and Y145N because insertions would break a lot of comparison tools. It also features a frame-shift deletion of four nucleotides in ORF3a that generates a stop codon two amino acids. The mutation is labeled as V256I, N257Q, and P258*. The list of defining mutations are: S: T95I, Y144S, Y145N, R346K, E484K, N501Y, D614G, P681H, and D950N; ORF1a: T1055A, T1538I, T3255I, Q3729R; ORF1b: P314L, P1342S; N: T205I, ORF3a: Q57H, V256I, N257Q, P258*; ORF8: T11K, P38S, S67F.[9] Mutations in viruses are not new. All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, undergo change over time. Most of these changes are inconsequential, but some can alter properties to make these viruses more virulent or escape the treatment or vaccines.[4]

On August 31, 2021, the WHO released an update which stated that the "Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape", noting that preliminary studies showed some signs of this but that "this needs to be confirmed by further studies."[10]

One such study conducted in a lab in Rome tested the effectiveness of sera collected from recipients of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine against the Mu variant, and found that "neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.621 lineage was robust", albeit at a lower level than that observed against the B.1 variant.[11]

Characteristic mutations of Mu Variant[8]
GeneAmino acid


August 2021

August 6:

  • Reuters reported that seven vaccinated elderly residents of a nursing home in the town of Zaventem in Belgium died after contracting the Mu variant.[13]

August 30:

  • Japan confirmed its first two cases of the Mu variant. The variant was detected in a woman in her 40s who arrived on June 26 from the United Arab Emirates. Another woman in her 50s who arrived in Japan on July 5 from the UK also had the Mu variant. Both patients were asymptomatic.[14]

September 2021

September 2:

  • The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Taiwan's first ever case of the Mu variant. The patient is a Taiwanese woman in her 60s who returned from the United States and already had 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. She had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the United States on July 5 and the second on July 26. When she returned to Taiwan on August 3, she did not report any symptoms, but a test administered at the airport revealed that she was positive for COVID-19.[15]
  • Guatemala reported its first two cases of the Mu variant in two female patients, aged 19 and 25. Both patients had no travel and vaccination history. The patients reside in the central department of Guatemala, where the capital, Guatemala City, is located.[16]

September 3:

  • Greece confirmed its first six cases of the Mu variant in the country. Four of them are imported cases.[17]
  • Hong Kong confirmed its first three cases of the Mu variant. Two of the patients – a 19-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman had flown in from Colombia and were confirmed to have the Mu variant in early June, while the other, a 26-year-old woman, arrived from the United States. She was confirmed infected on July 24. Hong Kong also reported four new imported COVID-19 cases, all involving domestic workers who arrived from the Philippines.[18]
  • South Korea confirmed the country's first cases of the Mu variant. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said that the variant was confirmed in three imported cases from Mexico, United States and Colombia.[19]

September 4:

  • According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), four cases of the new Mu COVID-19 variant, first discovered in Colombia, had been identified in Ireland. Two of the four cases are associated with the sublineage of the Mu variant.[20]
  • The Minister of Health of Peru, reported that the number of reported cases of the Mu variant of the coronavirus in the country increased to 86. Peru registered its first case of the Mu variant on May 12 from Moquegua. Since then, the National Institute of Health (INS) has reported 2 more cases in May, 12 in June, 37 in July, and 34 in August. According to the Peru Ministry of Health (MINSA), the Mu variant is present in the Constitutional Province of Callao with 7 cases reported and the 14 regions of the country: Áncash with 2 cases, Arequipa with 3 cases, Ayacucho with a total of 2 cases, Cajamarca with a case, Cusco with also a total of 1 case, Huancavelica with also 1 case reported, Ica with at least 4 cases, Lima with a total of 45 cases reported, Madre de Dios with 10 cases, Moquegua with 3 cases, Piura with a case, San Martin with also a case reported, Tacna with 1 case reported as well and Tumbes with at least 4 cases reported.[21]

September 7:

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands confirmed the presence of the Mu variant in the country.[22][23]
  • Turkey has detected its first Mu variant cases. It has been identified in at least two individuals.[24]

September 8:

September 9:

  • Twenty-six cases of the Mu variant have been confirmed in Jamaica from a total of 92 samples which were sent for testing to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control on August 21.[26][27][28]
  • Argentina confirmed the presence of the Mu variant in the country with one case reported. The patient is a 33-year-old woman who previously had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The patient resides in the San Martín department, in the north of the province of Salta. The patient presented mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.[29]

September 16:

September 18:

  • Finland detected its first cases of the Mu variant in the country.[34]


Confirmed cases by country (as of January 24, 2022)
CountryGISAID[35][8]other sources
 Dominican Republic115118
 Costa Rica7374
 United Kingdom716759[37]
 Puerto Rico57
 British Virgin Islands4141
 U.S. Virgin Islands51[23]
 Hong Kong333[18]
 Cayman Islands23
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines235[25]
 Sint Maarten23
 Czech Republic11
 South Korea113[19]
 Turks and Caicos Islands11

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants". World Health Organization. Archived from the original on June 18, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  2. ^ "WHO monitoring new coronavirus variant named 'Mu'". September 1, 2021. Archived from the original on September 1, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  3. ^ O'Neill, Luke. "Mu: everything you need to know about the new coronavirus variant of interest". The Conversation. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  4. ^ a b "Why Has WHO Designated 'Mu' A Variant Of Concern? Find Out All About It". September 1, 2021. Archived from the original on September 1, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  5. ^ "Lineage B.1.621.1". Archived from the original on August 31, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  6. ^ "Mu COVID variant: All you need to know about the new UK coronavirus strain". BBC Science Focus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2021-09-01. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  7. ^ "Variants: distribution of cases data". Government Digital Service. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Mu Lineage Report". Archived from the original on September 1, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  9. ^ "Variant: 21H (Mu)". Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  10. ^ "Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 31 August 2021". World Health Organization. August 31, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  11. ^ Messali, Serena; Bertelli, Anna; Campisi, Giovanni; Zani, Alberto; Ciccozzi, Massimo; Caruso, Arnaldo; Caccuri, Francesca (2021-07-30). "A cluster of the new SARS-CoV-2 B.1.621 lineage in Italy and sensitivity of the viral isolate to the BNT162b2 vaccine". Journal of Medical Virology. 93 (12): 6468–6470. doi:10.1002/jmv.27247. PMC 8426698. PMID 34329486.
  12. ^ "SARS-CoV-2 variants - Stanford Coronavirus Antiviral & Resistance Database". Stanford University Coronavirus Antiviral & Resistance Database. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "Seven residents of Belgian nursing home die after outbreak of B.1.621 lineage of COVID-19". August 6, 2021. Archived from the original on August 7, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Japan confirms first cases of mu variant of COVID-19". September 2, 2021. Archived from the original on September 2, 2021. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Taiwan reports its 1st imported case of Mu COVID variant". Taiwan News. September 3, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "The "MU" variant is already in Guatemala. Is it immune to vaccines?". Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Κορονοϊός - Μετάλλαξη Mu: Έξι κρούσματα στην Ελλάδα - Πού εντοπίστηκαν". (in Greek). January 1980. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Coronavirus: three cases of new Mu variant found in Hong Kong arrivals, authorities reveal". South China Morning Post. 3 September 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  19. ^ a b "3 Mu variant cases detected in South Korea". September 3, 2021. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Neville, Steve (4 September 2021). "Four Covid cases associated with Mu variant identified in Ireland". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Variante Mu en Perú: ¿en qué regiones se han detectado los 86 casos registrados hasta hoy?". (in Spanish). Gestion Peru. September 4, 2021. Retrieved September 12, 2021.
  22. ^ "Mu COVID-19 variant detected in USVI". carribean.loopnews. September 8, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Mu Variant of Covid-19 Confirmed in USVI". The Virgin Islands Consortium. September 8, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Turkey confirms first cases of coronavirus Mu variant". September 7, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "St Vincent and the Grenadines detects five cases of the Mu variant". carribean.loopnews. September 8, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  26. ^ a b "'Mu' variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Jamaica". September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "Health Ministry Confirms Mu Variant of Covid-19 Is in Jamaica". Nationwide 90FM. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  28. ^ "Mu variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Jamaica". September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Coronavirus. Detectan el primer caso de la variante mu en el país: una mujer vacunada con dos dosis". (in Spanish). LA NACION. 11 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Rio de Janeiro tem primeiro caso confirmado da variante Mu" (in Portuguese). CNN Brasil. September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  31. ^ a b "Ceará registra os dois primeiros casos da variante Mu em mulheres que viajaram à Colômbia". (in Portuguese). September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Secretário sobre variante Mu: 'Provavelmente, há transmissão comunitária'". (in Portuguese). September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  33. ^ a b "Covid-19: Amazonas confirma 2 casos da variante mu..." (in Portuguese). Poder360. September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Finland sees first cases of Covid variant Mu". YLE. YLE Uutiset. September 18, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  35. ^ "Tracking of Variants". Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  36. ^ "Variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2". Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  37. ^ "Variants: distribution of case data, 23 December 2021". Government Digital Service. Retrieved December 16, 2021.

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Each separate locus (amorphous blob) is an atom of:

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