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The mu variant is concerning, but it might not overtake delta, EU agency warns

The mu variant may not take over the delta variant of COVID-19

Men sit in the corridors of a state hospital in Bulgaria.
Men sit in the corridors of the state hospital in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. Despite one of the European Union’s highest death rates from COVID-19, and as the country faces a rapid surge of infections due to the delta variant, people in the Balkan nation are proving the most hesitant in the 27-country bloc to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vadim Ghirda, Associated Press

The mu variant of the coronavirus is potentially concerning, but there's not enough data about how dangerous it will be, according to the European Medicines Agency.

Is the mu variant stronger than the delta variant?

The EMA said this week that the mu variant is on its radar, even as it remains focused on the delta variant, according to MedicalXPress.

Marco Cavaleri, vaccines strategy chief for the EMA, said at a press briefing this week that the agency is “also looking into other variants that might be spreading, like the Lambda one (identified in Peru) and more recently the Mu one.”

  • “The Mu one being potentially more of concern because of the potential increased immune escape that it may show,” he added, according to MedicalXPress.

Is there a COVID vaccine for the mu variant?

Cavaleri said the EMA — which approves and checks on vaccines for the European Union, will investigate the potential for COVID-19 vaccines taking on the mu variant.

  • “However, I have to say that we don’t have yet data that would show that the Mu variant is spreading that much, and whether it will have any chance to overtake the Delta variant as a dominant strain,” he said.

Is Dr. Fauci worried about the mu variant?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that U.S. health officials are looking at the mu variant of the coronavirus. Though he’s not worried about it yet, Fauci said they are keeping an eye on it.

  • “We’re paying attention to it, we take everything like that seriously, but we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” Fauci said.

The World Health Organization said the mu variant might evade COVID-19 vaccines, meaning its definitely a potential variant to monitor. The variant — which has the name of B.1.621 variant — was added to the WHO’s list of variants “of interest” in August.