Top U.S. health officials are “keeping a very close eye” on a new coronavirus variant called mu, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. But it’s not an “immediate threat.”
The World Health Organization earlier this week named the mu variant a “variant of interest” after it was first detected in Colombia in January and has now been found in 39 countries throughout South America and Europe. But the new variant is rarely seen in the U.S., Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a news briefing Thursday. Still, officials are paying attention to it.
“Even though it has not – in the essence – taken hold to any extent here, we always pay attention to, at all times, variants,” Fauci said.
Fauci explained that although laboratory data suggests that the mu variant has a “constellation of mutations” which may allow it to evade certain antibodies, there is not enough clinical data to support this at present.
“Not to downplay it,” he said. “We take it very seriously.”
“But remember, even when you have variants that do diminish, somewhat, the efficacy of a vaccine – the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that type,” Fauci said.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky reiterated Fauci’s point, making clear that although sequences of the mu variant have been seen in the U.S., “over 99 percent of the sequences we’re seeing right now are Delta.”
“We’re watching it carefully,” Walensky said.