The Covid-19 Mu Variant

Photo+by+Anna+Shvets+from+Pexels

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Jason Ma, Online Staff Writer, Environmental Science Column Associate

The week of September 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the Mu variant of COVID-19 as a “variant of interest.” Further, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that the U.S. would keep a “very close eye” on the variant and take it “very seriously.” But why are such figures and organizations in the world of health being so careful, and subsequently, should we, the PDS community, also be worried?

To the vast majority of the PDS community, the Mu variant has completely passed under the radar. When asked for her remarks on the virus, Senior Emma Ozdogan responded “What the heck is that?” But this is a completely reasonable response! Why would we worry about Mu when, according to the Center for Disease Control, the delta variant is “more than 99% dominant,” and the Mu variant accounts for only about 0.1% of cases.

To answer this question, we should first dive into the origins of the Mu variant. The Mu variant was first identified in Colombia in January, causing the third wave of COVID-19 in the country from April to June. Since then, the variant has also been identified in more than 39 countries, including Ecuador, the United States, South Korea, Japan, and parts of Europe. However, what is concerning about this variant is not its prevalence throughout the world, but rather its mutations which suggest a higher chance of circumventing vaccine protection, a prospect that Senior Samuel Tang declared was “terrifying.”. Despite this, we should not panic just yet. Preliminary research has shown that although vaccines may be slightly less effective against the Mu variant, they still do a good job at preventing infections, especially serious infections, in the real world.

Although the Mu variant is not a major concern, it is still important to keep ourselves educated about the world around us. As of now, there are only four “variants of concern” including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta according to WHO; the Mu variant does not seem like it will join them anytime soon. Furthermore, it is still true that vaccination and proper abidance of COVID-19 guidelines are still the strongest defenses we have against all of these variants. In an interview with junior Kyler Zhou, he affirmed this belief stating that all these variants show is “the importance of vaccine rollouts around the country” and the need for the “general anti-vaccine sentiment” among some states and people to end.  Despite worrying data that vaccines may be becoming weaker in the face of mutated variants, this is not necessarily true, and they are still our most effective tool in curbing the spread of COVID-19, saving lives, and preventing further mutations of the virus. 

 

Works Cited:

  • Full Fact. “Evidence so Far Does Not Show the Mu Variant Is ‘Immune to Vaccines’.” Full Fact, 13 Sept. 2021, https://fullfact.org/health/mu-variant-immune-vaccines/.
  • Li, Li. “Health Officials ‘Keeping a Very CLOSE Eye’ On COVID-19 Mu Variant.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 9 Sept. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mu-variant-covid-19-health-officials/.
  • McNamara, Damian. “Q&a: How Concerned Should We Be about the Mu Variant?” WebMD, WebMD, 9 Sept. 2021, https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210909/mu-covid-variant-qa.
  • Suliman, Adela. “Here’s What We Know about the Mu Variant.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 9 Sept. 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/03/mu-coronavirus-variant-explained/.
  • “Updates on COVID-19 Variants of Concern.” National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, 13 Sept. 2021, https://nccid.ca/covid-19-variants/.
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