According to data from Outbreak.info, 49 of 50 U.S. States of have reported cases of the Mu variant of COVID-19. California stands out with nearly 400 cases of the Mu variant and 167 have come from Los Angeles County.
“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,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement to the New York Daily News.
“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.”
Last week, the World Health Organization identified the Mu variant as a "variant of interest." At the time, the variant was declining in many parts of the world aside from Colombia and Ecuador. However, "variants of interests" can quickly become "variants of concern" like the Delta variant did in May.
"[Mu] has been designated as a Variant of Interest as it has some mutations that need to be studied for their potential impact on the body’s immune response. Data shared with the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group indicate that immunity developed through prior infection or vaccination may not be as strong against this variant. More studies are needed to confirm this," a statement from WHO reads, according to The Hill.
Many were taken aback when WHO noted that vaccinations "may not be as strong against this variant" as others. Despite calls for concern, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says the variant does not pose an "immediate threat" to American society. While it is spreading into new areas, the CDC reports that the Mu variant only accounts for 0.2% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
“We’re paying attention to it,” Fauci said.
“We take everything like that seriously, but we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now.”