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The mu and lambda variants won’t be as dangerous as delta, experts say

Virologists said the mu and lambda variants may have trouble spreading in the U.S.

An illustration of virus particles.
Virologists said the mu and lambda variants may have trouble spreading in the U.S. New COVID-19 variants are spreading. What happens if they evade vaccines?
Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

A number of virologists told The Wall Street Journal that neither the mu and lambda variants of the coronavirus will supplant the delta variant.

Can mu variant and lambda variant overtake US?

Experts told The Wall Street Journal the delta variant is “well positioned to maintain its dominance” over other variants spreading in the U.S. right now.

  • Right now, the delta variant represents about 99% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., per the WSJ.
  • Experts expect the delta variant to keep outperforming the lambda and mu variants — as well as any other new variants — finding people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This has been the feeling among multiple experts for weeks. For example, Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Newsweek that the lambda variant won’t have a big opportunity to surpass the delta variant.

  • Lambda “is going to run into a problem here in the U.S. and that is the delta variant,” Durbin said.

Can COVID variants overtake the delta variant?

She said variants like to compete with each other for the vulnerable.

  • “These viruses are all competing with each other for advantage to be the one that survives,” Durbin told Newsweek. “We know that the lambda variant has some of the same mutations as the delta variant that we think (will) allow it to be more transmissible, so it would be difficult to outcompete the delta variant.”

Why mu and lambda worry experts

Both the mu and the lambda variants have been raising concern among experts. For example, one study — which was published online through bioRxiv and was not been peer-reviewed — found that the lambda variant could potentially evade vaccines.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said the mu variant has mutations that would help it evade COVID-19 vaccines. The WHO added it to its list of variants “of interest” in August.