Fauci: New “Mu” Variant Does Not Pose an “Immediate Threat”

"fogarty-nih-50th-symposium-speaker-anthony-fauci" (United States government work) by Fogarty International Center

The World Health Organization has added a coronavirus variant B.1.6.21, also known as “Mu,” to the list of “variants of interest.” These variants are currently being observed by the World Health Organization.

Mu COVID strain added to the list of “variants of interest” by the WHO

Earlier this week, WHO added “Mu” as a variant of interest; it is being watched by the global health body as COVID cases caused by this new variant continue to emerge in different parts of the globe.

Mu is the fifth COVID variant of interest that is under observation by the World Health Organization. The WHO likewise added the new strain in their weekly epidemiology report, noting that it is under careful observation. 

On the other hand, the Chief Medical Adviser of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, stated in a recent press briefing that the Mu variant does not pose an immediate threat in the United States at present. 

Fauci however emphasized that they are closely monitoring the new variant and taking it seriously. The White House chief medical adviser likewise noted that the traces of mutations were seen in the new variant. These mutations were seen as capable of escaping from certain antibodies, including monoclonal antibodies.

The WHO also noted in a statement on Tuesday that the Mu variant contains traces of mutations that show possible features of immune escape. However, the amount of protection that COVID vaccines offer against the Mu variant remains unclear, as it still needs to be established by further studies.

Fauci echoed the same sentiments, noting that there is not enough clinical data that is related to this information. However, the chief medical adviser added that even though the COVID vaccines we have available were made with the original coronavirus variant in mind, they are still very effective against the Delta COVID variant. 

Although the variants of the virus somehow decrease the efficacy of the vaccines to fight against it, the vaccines are still recommended and extremely effective.

Around 2,000 Mu COVID cases were recorded in the United States

At present, the Delta variant is shaking the world, as a surge of COVID outbreaks is seen in different countries, including the U.S. Fauci maintained that the Delta variant is still seen as the dominant strain in the United States.

Almost 99% of the recent COVID cases seen in the country are caused by this variant, adding that cases caused by the Mu strain are still low. According to the records given by Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, around 2,000 Mu cases were seen in the United States so far.

Most of the Mu cases were reported in New York, California, Texas, and Florida, among others. 

The WHO also gave a warning that although the dominance of the Mu variant among the COVID cases sequenced is still below 0.1%, it has been persistently increasing. On the other hand, Fauci made a statement in relation to the planned COVID vaccine booster.

He noted that it will not be surprising if the new standard to be “fully vaccinated” is to have three COVID vaccine shots. The U.S. is expected to give out booster shots later this month, upon review by the federal health agencies.