Health officials watching new Mu COVID-19 variant

The “Mu” Variant first detected in Colombia is now in 49 states.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Health officials are closely watching a new coronavirus variant.

The “Mu” Variant first detected in Colombia is now in 49 states, including Rhode Island.

Dr. Philip Chan with the Department of Health says while the Mu variant is a variant of interest, it’s still new.

“The Mu variant may have some mutations that make it more resistant to the vaccine or current therapeutics,” Dr. Chan said. “I want to again emphasize we still need more data to show that, but of course anything that would make a variant resistant to the vaccine is of concern.”

The new variant comes at a time where the U.S. is grappling with its most concerning surge yet. Just in the last week, there have been nearly 252,000 child COVID-19 cases nationwide. That’s the single largest number of pediatric cases in one week since the pandemic began.

COVID cases have already forced closures in at least 1,400 schools across 35 states. There are no reported closures in Rhode Island yet, but Dr. Chan says it’s only a matter of time before cases pop up.

“The delta variant is still by-far-in-large the most concerning variant. We know it’s much more contagious, including among young adults. There are reports across the country that children hospitals are filling up,” Dr. Chan said. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, please, please, please get vaccinated. Not just to help yourself, but also others around you, the community, vulnerable community members, as well as keep our k-12 schools open to minimize risk there as well.”

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