Fauci Claims New COVID-19 Mu Variant Not Posing An Immediate 'Threat' to US
23:24 GMT 02.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
According to the WHO, the newly found strain, called Mu, was initially discovered in Colombia and has now been verified in at least 39 countries. Although the global prevalence of the mutation among sequenced cases has decreased to below 0.1%, it has steadily climbed in Colombia and Ecuador.
The newly-identified COVID-19 Mu strain poses no immediate threat to the US, the Biden administration's chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a news briefing on Thursday.
"We’re paying attention to it, we take everything like that seriously, but we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now," Fauci said.
Moreover, according to Fauci, despite the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines were designed to combat the original strain, they are still highly effective against the Delta variant, which is currently responsible for over 99% of new infections in the US.
"Remember, even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of vaccines, the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that time," he explained.
Mu, also officially named B.1.621 by scientists, was added to the World Health Organization's list of variants "of interest" on Monday, the agency's weekly COVID-19 epidemiology report revealed on Tuesday.
"This variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine- and convalescent serum-induced antibodies," the US COVID-19 czar added. "But there isn’t a lot of clinical data to suggest that, it is mostly laboratory in-vitro data."
In the US, the Delta strain is still the most common of all identified within the nation's territory, and the Mu strain "isn’t even close to being dominant," according to Fauci.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on it,” Fauci added, however.
1 September 2021, 18:31 GMT
Delta, first identified in India, was a virus variant of interest until the WHO categorized it in early May this year after preliminary investigations revealed it transmitted faster than other existing strains. Since then, that variant has been responsible for other big outbreaks around the world, including in the US.
The health organization is also keeping a close eye on four additional variants of interest, including Lambda, which was initially detected in Peru and has genetic modifications that could make it more deadly than other strains, according to the organization's report.
Additional research is needed to determine whether the Mu strain will prove to be more contagious, lethal, or resistant to present vaccines and therapies, according to the WHO.
Data provided by Johns Hopkins University notes that over 39.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in the US since the pandemic outbreak in early 2020, and that over 643,000 people have died after contracting the respiratory illness. The country ranks first in the world for both figures.