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The Los Angeles County health department identified 167 Mu variants in specimens sequenced between June 19 and Augusts 21, with the majority of Mu specimens sequenced in July.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

While the most dominant circulating variant in L.A. County continues to be the highly transmissible Delta variant, a variant of concern, the Mu variant, a variant of interest, is being closely monitored.

Mu was first identified in Colombia in January 2021 and has since been reported in 39 countries. The World Health Organization labelled variant Mu, lineage B.1.621, as a variant of interest on August 30, 2021. The Mu variant is found to have key mutations linked to greater transmissibility and the potential to evade antibodies. More studies are needed to determine whether Mu variant is more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to vaccine and treatments than other COVID-19 strains.

LA County Director of Public Health, Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd said, “The identification of variants like Mu, and the spreading of variants across the globe, highlights the need for L.A. County residents to continue to take measures to protect themselves and others. This is what makes getting vaccinated and layering protections so important. These are actions that break the chain of transmission and limits COVID-19 proliferation that allows for the virus to mutate into something that could be more dangerous.”