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A woman gets vaccinated against COVID-19 in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization added a coronavirus strain called Mu, which was first detected in Colombia in January, to its "Variants of Interest" list on Monday.

Why it matters: The WHO warned that data suggests protection from prior infection or vaccination may not be as strong against the Mu variant, adding that further research is needed to confirm that.

The big picture: The Mu variant, formally known as B.1.621, has a cluster of mutations that "that indicate potential properties of immune escape," WHO noted in its weekly epidemiological report.

  • The variant has thus far been detected in 39 countries. Although it makes up only 0.1% of global COVID-19 cases, its prevalence in South America has been rising, and it currently makes up 39% of cases in Colombia and 13% in Ecuador.

Be smart: The WHO defines Variants of Interest as having genetic changes that affect virus characteristics like transmissibility, disease severity and immune escape, while having significant community transmission.

  • They differ from Variants of Concern, which lower the effectiveness of public health and social measures or diagnostics and therapeutics.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Oct 17, 2021 - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Oct 17, 2021 - Health

Fauci: J&J recipients will likely be able to mix and match boosters

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely allow recipients of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 to mix and match vaccine boosters depending on their individual health, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told ABC News' '"This Week" on Sunday.

Why it matters: The FDA's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed booster shots for adult recipients of the J&J vaccine. The panel is also exploring the mix and match strategy but hasn't yet taken a formal vote on the matter.