CLEVELAND, OH — As Northeast Ohio battles of a wave of COVID-19 cases linked to the highly-contagious Delta variant, doctors here are keeping an eye on another strain of the virus added to the World Health Organization's list of variants of interest.
The Mu variant was first detected in Columbia in January and has now been found in 39 countries including the US.
The WHO says the Mu variant is showing some signs of resistance to vaccines.
"We certainly are aware of the new variant, keeping a very close eye on it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. "It is really seen here but it is not at all even close to being dominant."
In fact, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data which tracks variants shows just 27 cases of the Mu variant reported in Ohio.
Dr. Amy Edwards, an infectious disease specialist with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital said there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to Mu.
"Central and South America don’t have a high-enough vaccine rate for any kind of relevant clinical trial to detect whether the vaccine is still holding up against Mu," said Edwards.
Right now, Edwards said this latest variant isn't a major threat to the US, but added that can change easily and quickly.
"If Mu can out-compete Delta, then it could make what’s turning out to be a bad outbreak even worse," said Edwards. "If if turns out to be kind of the same as Delta, then it may not matter. That’s still to be worked out."
Edwards said they key to cutting down the number of variants is getting people vaccinated.
She said if 70 to 80% of the population got the shots, there would be a lot less mutation of the COVID-19 virus.