The “Mu” variant, first detected in Colombia in January, has been increasing in prevalence in the United States and other countries in recent weeks.
Preliminary data on the variant indicates it may evade vaccine protection better than some other strains, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) said in its most recent epidemiological update.
Approximately 2,314 cases of the CCP virus variant had been detected in the United States, with Nebraska the only state without a case, according to outbreak.info as of Sept. 7.
The CCP virus causes COVID-19.
The state with the most cases so far is California. Scientists there have found 399 cases.
Florida has found 305 cases of Mu, New York has detected 203, and Texas has found 120.
The bulk of the cases in California have been detected in Los Angeles County. Officials there on Friday reported 167 cases and said the variant has been “linked to greater transmissibility and the potential to evade antibodies,” though they emphasized, as did WHO, that further study is needed.
“The identification of variants like Mu, and the spreading of variants across the globe, highlights the need for L.A. County residents to continue to take measures to protect themselves and others. This is what makes getting vaccinated and layering protections so important. These are actions that break the chain of transmission and limits COVID-19 proliferation that allows for the virus to mutate into something that could be more dangerous,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement.
Still, the number of cases in each state is a fraction of the total sequenced cases. The Delta variant remains, by far, the most dominant strain.
The percentage of Mu variant cases in some South American countries has grown over time. About 4 in 10 cases in Colombia were the variant, as of late August.
But data from sequencing indicates that the Delta variant, which has become dominant worldwide outside of South America, suggests that Delta will displace Mu and other variants in the coming weeks, according to Trevor Bedford, an affiliate associate professor in the Department of Genome Sciences and the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington.
Federal health officials said last week that they’re keeping an eye on the Mu variant but that it hasn’t spread much and Delta remains dominant.
“Even though it has not in essence taken hold to any extent here we always pay attention to, at all times, variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told reporters in a virtual briefing, noting that early data indicates the vaccine could evade antibodies from monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccines.
“Bottom line: We’re paying attention to it. We take everything like that seriously. But we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” he added.