Mu unlikely to replace delta as dominant variant, virologists say

The delta coronavirus variant, which accounts for 99 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, will likely maintain its dominance over new variants such as mu (B.1.621) and lambda (C.37), virologists told The Wall Street Journal.

The virologists said they expect delta to outcompete these strains because of its high transmissibility. In short, other variants can't spread to susceptible people as fast as delta can, which gives it a leg up. 

"Nothing so far has appeared competitive to delta," Trevor Bedford, PhD, a virologist with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told the Journal.

This means that new case surges will likely be driven by delta and its sub-variants, not a new virus lineage, virologists said. 

At present, delta accounts for about 88 percent of new cases globally, according to data cited by the Journal. Dr. Bedford projected that, on its current trajectory, delta would achieve fixation as the dominant strain worldwide within about a year of its emergence. In contrast, seasonal flu strains typically take two to five years to achieve fixation, he told the Journal

Delta does not appear to produce more severe COVID-19 infections than earlier strains, and vaccines appear effective against the variant, experts said.

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