Mu variant' spreads, but 'still too early to worry'
“If the Mu variant was a bad variant, we should have seen signs of it by now,” explains British microbiologist Paul Griffin in ‘The Conversation’
“I don’t think it’s time to worry about the Mu variant yet
Paul Griffin, a microbiologist and infectious disease physician with several positions in the UK, takes stock of variant sequencing in the British newspaper ‘The Conversation’, with a particular focus on the ‘Mu variant’ that seems to be spreading with increasing speed in Asia, Europe and the US these days.
First sequenced in Colombia in 2021 and so far reported in at least 39 countries, the Mu variant has been listed as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organisation
Griffin explains that a variant of interest is defined as one that records “changes in the virus that highlight its potential to cause more damage”. The other four variants of interest identified so far are eta, iota, kappa and lambda.
“Mu has changes, or mutations,’ Griffin explains, ‘that could make it able to partially circumvent the protection we have obtained from vaccines against covid.
But on this, explains the microbiologist, ‘data are still being collected. If there is sufficient evidence that mu is more dangerous and is starting to outcompete other variants such as delta, it could be upgraded to ‘variant of concern’ status’.
So far the four variants of concern are alpha, beta, gamma and delta
The WHO,” Griffin adds, “has stated that initial evidence suggests that the mu variant may partially circumvent the antibodies we get through the vaccine.
However, since these data come from laboratory studies, we don’t know exactly how the variant will really behave in the population.
More research is needed to know for sure how it will behave among people, and studies on this are still ongoing.”
But, he concludes, ‘if mu was a bad variant, we should have seen signs of it already, but this has not happened yet.