The new COVID-19 variant mu has a foothold in Illinois. Do you need to worry?


When I was trying to understand Delta, mu appeared.

World Health Organization of the Week Spotlight The new and worried COVID-19 mutant it says may be vaccine resistant. The mu strain accounts for a small proportion of all coronavirus cases in the United States — Illinois has detected only 18 cases. Database — But like the ubiquitous delta variant, mu has properties that can make it more communicative.

So how worried should we be?

WHO noted Colombia, where mu was first detected in January and has since grown to account for 39% of the country’s COVID cases. This variant has also been found in 38 other countries.

Ramon Lorenzo Redondo, an assistant professor of medical research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said the Colombian numbers could be misleading. He said the high proportion of mu may not reflect the actual situation, as the country has relatively few genetic tests for viral cases.

“The noise can still be quite high,” he said. “Or it could mean that there is an outbreak that indicates that this variant is occurring in some parts of the country.”

However, Colombian epidemiologist Elena Navas-Nacher, who founded the Chicago-based Global Health Beat Foundation, said the variant had hit the country hard. When she visited this summer, she said the intensive care unit was 90% full.

“The latest peaks were extremely deadly and disrupted the various (urban) health systems, including the largest and most sophisticated Bogotá and Medellín,” she said. “In a small town, it was a disaster.”

After that, the case load plummeted. This is attributed to Navas-Nacher’s active vaccination program in South American countries. However, she said cases were increasing in Ecuador, a Colombian neighbor with a 13% mu prevalence.

Globally, mu has declined to less than 0.1% of COVID-19 cases, according to WHO. However, Dr. Mark Dwarkin, Deputy Director of Epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health, said that does not mean that the variant was successful.

“It is not possible to determine what will happen with respect to changes in strain,” he said. “We are learning which stocks will beat (other stocks) and when they will win. So Mu may pick up. Mu may never build a strong foothold. Hmm.”

State officials confirmed that mu was found in Illinois, but said the consequences of its emergence were still unknown. They noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not list it as a “variant of concern.”

Delta is one of the mutants, showing how quickly mutant viruses exacerbate pandemics.

This strain was not detected until it was detected in Illinois Mid-June And now we’re talking about almost every new case. Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, director of infection control and prevention at Edward Hospital, said Delta was responsible for the state’s surge in cases that began in midsummer.

Delta can infect vaccinated people, but few people get seriously ill or are hospitalized, he said. He said he expected similar results if Mu became more popular.

“Based on what we know about mutants with similar mutations, I’m not really worried about problems with this mutant vaccine,” he said.

Despite Delta’s excellence, Governor JB Pritzkar expressed cautious optimism at a press conference Thursday that a pandemic in Illinois could be eased.

“It may be hopeful to stitch them together for a few days in a row, but it doesn’t always tell us what the trend is, so we’re watching these numbers carefully,” he said. “Sure, on average over the last few days, the situation seems to be flat. This is really good news for all of us.”

Dr. Chethra Muthiah, an infection control specialist at NorthShore University Health System, said the true proven method of controlling the spread of “immunization, masking indoors, and continuing to follow public health guidance” also applies to mu variants. I did. However, Lorenzo-Redondo said the emergence of strains here indicates that a global solution is needed to defeat the pandemic.

“If you only vaccinate the United States or Europe, you can’t solve the problem because other variants appear in other parts of the world,” he said. “We need global efforts to end the infection everywhere.”

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