AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — As the CSRA battles the Delta variant, researchers at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) are keeping a close eye on another mutation — the Mu variant.
“We’re always concerned any time we see a new variant,” Dr. Phillip Coule, the Chief Medical Officer of AU Health, says.
“There’s definitely a concern that this could become dominant alongside Delta or more than Delta,” Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, the Director of the Georgia Esoteric & Molecular Laboratory, adds.
The Mu variant first emerged in South America, and has been classified as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization. It has now been identified in the CSRA. MCG tested about 360 samples of COVID-19 from July to August. Two samples were identified as Mu.
“In communities that are low in vaccination rate, Mu and Delta seem to dominate the infections,” Kolhe explains.
Mu makes up a small number of infections. But, researchers, including Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, worry it could spread quickly, similar to the Delta variant.
“When we sequenced the virus at the end of May, there was not a single Delta stain. Everything was the Alpha or U.K. strain. When we sequenced the virus from June and July, pretty much everything we had was replaced with the Delta virus. It took a month and a half for it [delta strain] to become a dominant strain in the community.”
Kolhe and his team are still working to learn more about Mu, specifically if it will infect people who are vaccinated.
“The current infection is not what we had earlier. It’s not a COVID-19-like infection. The virus has changed. The infection has changed. The treatment has changed.”
In MCG’s latest sequence, researchers also identified 13 mutations of the Delta variant.
“That is growing. We’re moving from Delta to ‘Delta-like.’ Not only is Delta there, we’re adding additional mutations to the strain. It’s becoming its own strain. “