Facebook Twitter

Why the mu variant doesn’t show up in official COVID-19 numbers

The mu variant is moving through the country despite reports it might have withered away

SHARE Why the mu variant doesn’t show up in official COVID-19 numbers
New data suggests a COVID-19 variant doesn’t account for new COVID-19 cases.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab.

NIAID-RML via Associated Press

The mu variant of the novel coronavirus is circulating through Virginia at a rather high rate, but officials within the state have yet to report on it, The Staunton News Leader reports.

Bryan Lewis, a research associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, told The Staunton News Leader that the mu variant has been spreading throughout the state, even though it doesn’t look like it’ll take off and spread far.

  • “We’ve seen some evidence that Mu is having trouble out-competing Delta,” said Lewis. ”And in places with a lot of Mu, Delta’s showed up and it’s gotten a foothold and grown a bit, so I don’t know if Mu is going to take off on us at least until more people are vaccinated or have been infected. Then, it will be a little stronger because it’s better at escaping immunity; whereas, Delta’s just supercharged and super fast. It’ll outrun Mu until the population slows down Delta.”

But, interestingly, the Virginia Department of Health did not list the mu variant on its variant of concern dashboard, a tool designed to show how much variants are spreading in the state, according to The Staunton News Leader.

The World Health Organization said the mu variant was “of interest” and needed to be monitored as it showed signs of being more transmissible than the delta variant.

  • “The mu strain needs further study to confirm whether it will prove to be more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments,” according to CNBC.

But recent data from outbreak.info — which monitors cases of the coronavirus and variants — recently found that the mu variant of the coronavirus — represented no new cases of COVID-19 by the end of September. Of course, there’s a chance the variant could return. But experts are convinced that the variant won’t surpass the delta variant, which is already spreading through the United States at a high rate.

  • “Of those four variants of concern, delta is, by far, the most transmissible,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said in a video Q&A in early September. “If delta is identified or starts to circulate in a country where there is beta ... (delta) has quickly replaced the variant there.”