Story at a glance
- The variant, labelled “mu,” has been detected in 39 countries in South America and Europe.
- “We certainly are aware of the mu variant. We’re keeping a very close eye on it,” Anthony Fauci said.
- “We don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” he added.
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert says a coronavirus variant designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “variant of interest” this week doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the U.S., but health officials are watching it closely.
The variant, labelled “mu,” has been detected in 39 countries in South America and Europe and was first identified in Colombia earlier this year. As of Aug. 29, 4,500 sequences of the variant have been reported, making up less than 0.1 percent of sequenced cases.
“We certainly are aware of the mu variant. We’re keeping a very close eye on it,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a news briefing Thursday.
“But it is not at all even close to being dominant. As you know, the delta [variant] is more than 99 percent dominant,” Fauci said.
Fauci said the variant has a constellation of mutations that suggest it could evade certain antibodies, but emphasized more research needs to be done to determine if that’s the case.
“Not to downplay it, we take it very seriously, but remember, even when you have variants that do diminish, somewhat, the efficacy of vaccines, the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that type,” he said.
“We don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” he added.
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