President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that they are paying attention to the new COVID strain “Mu” after the World Health Organization (WHO) added it to its variants “of interest” list Thursday, Sept. 2.
“We’re paying attention to it, we take everything like that seriously, but we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” said the U.S. top infectious disease expert, according to CNBC.
The new variant B.1.621, also known as Mu, was added to the WHO’s watch list as one of the five variants of interest to the international health organization’s list since March 2021.
This list identifies variants that are believed to cause significant “community transmission” and has a “high risk of transmissibility, prompting “increasing number of cases over time.”
According to Dr. Fauci, “This variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies, not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine- and convalescent serum-induced antibodies.”
He also said that this variant doesn’t offer a lot of clinical data yet, so “it is mostly laboratory in-vitro data.”
The highly transmissible Delta variant was in the WHO’s list of interest until May. It was later reclassified after causing major outbreaks in the U.S.
Fauci also said that unlike the Delta variant, the mu variant “isn’t even close to being dominant” in the U.S.
The new Mu variant of the coronavirus was added to WHO’s watchlist after it was identified in 39 countries. The WHO added it to the list because of its “potential properties of immune escape” which means that the mutation offers stronger protection against the COVID-19 vaccines which were created againts the earlier identified variants of the virus.