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Health officials “keeping a very close eye” on COVID-19 Mu variant

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues its lethal sweep throughout the U.S., officials say that they’re maintaining a “very close eye” on a new variant that might be able to bypass present coronavirus antibodies. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, mentioned on Thursday that the U.S. is taking the variant, dubbed Mu, “very seriously,” however that it hasn’t taken an in depth maintain on this nation. 

“We’re keeping a very close eye on it. It is really seen here, but it is not at all even close to being dominant,” Fauci mentioned. “As you know, the Delta is more than 99% dominant.”

Fauci mentioned the Mu variant, technically often called B.1.621, has mutations suggesting “it would evade certain antibodies,” doubtlessly together with these from vaccines. 

“But there isn’t a lot of clinical data to suggest that. It is mostly laboratory in vitro data,” he added. “…We don’t consider it an immediate threat right now.” 

The World Health Organization designated Mu a “variant of interest” this week, and mentioned extra research should be achieved to verify whether or not the variant might evade present antibodies. 

Viruses are identified to mutate over time as they unfold, and never all variants will be capable to persist. If a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, proves to unfold quicker, trigger extra extreme sickness or reduce the effectiveness of present prevention or remedy choices, it will get categorized as a extra severe “variant of concern.”

There are presently 4 “variants of concern“: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Delta, which turned up within the U.S. within the spring, is extra contagious and now makes up the overwhelming majority of U.S. instances. 

Mu has been detected sporadically because it was first recognized in Colombia in January, WHO officials mentioned.

Colombian well being official Marcela Mercado advised a native radio station on Thursday that Mu was accountable for the nation’s third wave of coronavirus infections from April to June. She mentioned there have been almost 700 deaths per day throughout this time, and almost two-thirds of assessments from individuals who died got here again optimistic for the Mu variant, in keeping with AFP.

In the previous week, Colombia has seen just below 14,000 new instances of COVID-19 and 530 new deaths, in keeping with Johns Hopkins University. Less than 30% of the nation’s residents are totally vaccinated. 

There have been “some larger outbreaks” of the variant reported in South America and Europe, in keeping with WHO. The main areas for the variant are in Colombia and Ecuador. 

“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,” the WHO mentioned.