Corona Slopes, Indonesia is Overshadowed by the Threat of the Variant COVID-19 Virus

The shadow of concern is based on two reasons. – Indonesia is overshadowed by the threat of the Mu variant of the COVID-19 virus when the trend of transmission of the corona virus outbreak in Indonesia has been increasingly sloping in the last 1.5 months. The shadow of concern is based on two reasons.

First, based on experience in many countries, including Indonesia, this epidemic is like a wave that comes and goes.

Because the potential for this virus to re-emerge is always there, vigilance, anticipation, and mitigation are absolute.

Second, viral mutations that have occurred in several new variants.

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This shows that the hard work of controlling it is like going down a long road that is difficult to predict.

INFOGRAPHIC: Knowing Your Variant Covid-19 Virus

The phenomenon of this viral mutation has been widely discussed by experts. After alpha, delta, and so on, the last is the emergence of a variant of Mu known as B.1.621.

This variant was first detected in Colombia in January 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as a “Variant of Interest” (VOI).

The VOI label, as quoted from LiveScience, Friday (3/9), means that the prevalence of this variant is increasing in several regions. The mutations tend to affect the characteristics of the virus, such as transmission or disease severity.

According to WHO, the Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that exhibit potential traits to escape vaccine immunity.

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Preliminary data from laboratory studies suggest antibodies produced in response to COVID-19 vaccination or prior infection are less able to neutralize or bind to and inactivate Mu variants.

Illustration of the writing Covid-19 variant MU. [Istimewa]
Illustration of the writing Covid-19 variant MU. [Istimewa]

However, these findings still need to be confirmed through further research. WHO says more research is needed to better understand the Mu variant and its spread.

Besides Mu, WHO is currently monitoring four other VOIs, namely eta, iota, kappa, and lambda. In addition, we continue to monitor the four “Variants of Concern” (VOC), namely alpha, beta, gamma and delta.

So far, the Mu variant has been detected in 39 countries, including in South America, Europe and the United States. According to Medpage Today, a study from the University of Miami, detected this variant in nine percent of cases at the Jackson Memorial Health System in Miami.

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Although Mu is found in less than 0.1 percent of all COVID-19 cases worldwide, this variant accounts for 39 percent of cases in Colombia and 13 percent in Ecuador, and has increased prevalence in the region.

Regarding its transmission, health authorities in the UK noted that this variant does not spread very quickly and is no more contagious than the delta variant, but that Mu has the ability to evade vaccine-induced immunity.

From the information that has been widely circulated, it is only natural that the new variant of the corona virus raises concerns in the midst of the current sloping daily case. In fact, the sloping development of the outbreak has made all parties breathe a sigh of relief.

That is why DPD RI Member, Fahira Idris, has warned that the epidemic situation, which has begun to improve, is maintained. So it must be immediately formulated and implemented a strategy to prevent the entry of the Mu variant into Indonesia.

The tension in handling the COVID-19 outbreak, which tends to begin to decline, has become a very good momentum for the government to focus more on formulating a comprehensive strategy in preventing the entry of the Mu variant as much as possible.

In addition, another important thing is to develop an effective scenario if this variant enters Indonesia, to prevent a spike in cases like the one that has just happened to Indonesia due to the delta variant.

Don’t let it happen like a delta variant which causes a very high spike in cases. This surge in delta cases is a valuable lesson for both the government and the community to be ready to prevent the entry of this Mu variant.

The entrances should be the most effective filter to prevent the entry of this Mu variant. This means that international entrances, especially air and sea, must be tightened from now on.

Once again, all parties must learn from the entry of the delta variant which resulted in Indonesia experiencing a second wave.

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Even though the current cases are starting to drop and the vaccination program is running, it’s not yet the time to be euphoric. Many countries that feel it is safe to relax restrictions, even waiving the obligation to wear masks, are now experiencing a spike in cases.

The decrease in cases also does not mean that tests and traces are also down. In fact, it must be optimized so that the “positivity rate” can fall below five percent, according to WHO standards.

The point is that there should not be another spike in cases like last July which overwhelmed hospitals and health workers, increased death rates, and caused various effects of oxygen scarcity.

Don’t let the current decline in positive cases make everyone complacent, let alone euphoria. The most appropriate thing is to put forward an alert and anticipatory attitude.

Fortunately, the COVID-19 Handling Task Force has observed the development of the new variant at the global level, and then determined the anticipation of its spread in Indonesia.

One of the essences of anticipating it is to strengthen the awareness of all parties regarding the potential for transmission of new variant mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

This alert was also conveyed by the Government Spokesperson for Handling COVID-19 and the Ambassador for Behavior Change, Dr. Reisa Broto Asmoro, in the online “Healthy Broadcast for Preparedness for New Variants” in Jakarta, Monday (13/9).

It is also important to note that viral mutations replicate. The more viruses multiply and change hosts, the more likely they are to mutate.

But the mutation of the virus is a natural form of a virus that is adapting and wants to survive. In that adjustment, not all effects of mutations on a virus are harmful.

The mutation process can make the virus itself destroyed or survive and have a greater absorption capacity. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a variation of a series of mutations of the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused the SARS outbreak in a number of countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, in 2002.

So, this mutation as a way of living things evolve so it must happen. The task of all parties is to study, monitor, and understand, so that these mutations are anticipated and appropriate protection.

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Although COVID-19 has been designated by the WHO to be included in the VOI category, but all parties need to be vigilant if new variants are created due to mutations from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can fall into the VOC category.

One of the anticipations is the cooperation of all parties to reduce community mobility in order to prevent the occurrence of virus mutations in COVID-19. The high displacement between regions, and even the mobility of people between countries can be a factor causing mutations.

Spokesperson for the COVID-19 Vaccination of the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, also spoke about the potential entry of Mu in Indonesia.

The government continues to make various prevention efforts as a form of anticipation if new variant mutations such as the Mu variant are found in Indonesia.

Although in fact the variants circulating in Indonesia today are mostly or as much as 98 percent are delta variants, of course there is information about this Mu variant which is classified as VOI, and we continue to watch out for it.

The government must continue to ensure that travelers who come from abroad do not bring the Mu variant or other types of variants into the country.

The government continues to cooperate with various parties to ensure tightening, guidance, supervision, and screening, at the entrances to Indonesia to monitor new variants, including if there are local variants.

This is done because more and more people are traveling from one country to another, either coming to a country or just transiting to move to another country.

Therefore, screening and monitoring of traffic and mobility of people between countries must be strengthened, so that the potential for Mu entry is believed to be anticipated early on.

Everyone certainly doesn’t want a new wave of COVID-19 after the spread of the delta variant starts to slow down. Therefore, the sloping development of the epidemic should be addressed with vigilance, not euphoria, let alone debauchery. (Between)


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