New variant ‘mu’ appears as delta continues to dominate new COVID-19 cases

Just as Florida is starting to see a decrease in new cases of COVID-19, there’s word of a new variant called “mu.”

It currently accounts for only .2% of the total cases in the United States but Sunday Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged the new variant and said it’s unknown if current vaccines are effective against it.

Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist with USF, said until a greater percentage of the population is vaccinated, it is inevitable that new variants of COVID-19 will develop.

But he said with the delta variant making up 99% of the cases in the U.S. right now, that’s what people should be concerned with.

“I’m not at all worried about mu or lambda right now, I continue to be worried about delta,” he said.

Dr. Salemi said reports of mu should encourage more vaccinations.

“It underscores the importance of vaccinations and other mitigation efforts because the more that we let the virus persist at high levels the higher the likelihood that new variants will emerge and become as problematic as delta,” he said.

As for whether current vaccines would be effective against the mu variant, he says the evidence indicates they will.

“Right now there’s no reason to believe that vaccination wouldn’t offer a very significant risk reduction in terms of your likelihood of severe disease. But again that’s something we will continue to monitor,” Salemi said.