LA reports 167 cases of new 'mu' variant — 8 updates

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The mu COVID-19 variant, deemed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization Aug. 30, has been detected in 167 people in Los Angeles, according to a Sept. 6 report from The Los Angeles Times. 

The strain, first identified in Colombia in January, has since been detected in at least 39 countries and carries a number of mutations "that indicate potential properties of immune escape," according to the WHO.

Seven more updates: 

1. In Los Angeles, cases of the variant were detected between June 19 and Aug. 21, mostly in July, the L.A. Times reports. 

2. About 2,400 cases of the mu variant had been identified in the U.S. as of Aug. 28, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, which tracks global viral genome data. Mu accounts for 0.2 percent of all sequenced cases in the U.S. 

3. California had reported 399 cases of the strain as of Sept. 6, the highest in the country, according to Outbreak.info, a platform that shares data on COVID-19 variants and is supported by the CDC and other national research groups. The strain still accounts for less than 1 percent of samples sequenced in the state. 

4. The CDC has not named mu a variant of interest, though scientists are keeping an eye on it. 

5. "We're keeping a very close eye on it," said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "It is not at all even close to being dominant. As you know, the delta is more than 99 percent dominant," he said during a Sept. 2 media conference. 

6. Current evidence suggests the strain is likely "more transmissible," according to Paul Cardenas, MD, PhD, an infectious disease and genomics expert in Ecuador who is studying the virus. Mu has "been able to outcompete gamma and alpha in most parts of Ecuador and Colombia," he told The Washington Post. 

7. Pfizer is conducting studies on the variant and is expected to publish data in a peer-reviewed journal soon, the vaccine maker told the Post.

 

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