News/Op-Ed: New COVID-19 “Mu” Variant Appears In The U.S. Causing Concern

by Oscar Aranda

People may not be totally safe with the COVID-19 vaccine. Coming from Columbia, the “Mu” variant has been found in 31 countries and is now present inside the United States. 

Nearing almost 3,000 cases nationwide, the variant is raising concern for another possible widespread outbreak. So far the Mu variant is prevalent in South America and Europe, which is co-circulating with other COVID-19 variants such as the Delta variant.

The state that has the highest report of the Mu variant is California, with a reported 432 cases. Coming in second for Mu variant cases is Florida, which has reported 308 cases, and in third, New York with 209 cases. 

The Mu variant has been found to be resistant to COVID-19 antibodies as well as vaccines, which can lead to many complications if an outbreak occurs in the U.S. Though if another outbreak occurs not only will the people of America be affected, but the health workers will once again have to go through another wave of hospitalizations. 

This has led people to ask how the Mu variant arose and why it is so dangerous. The Mu variant contains many mutations that give the virus the ability to break through antibodies, though it is less likely to be transmitted compared to the “wild-type” COVID-19 or the Delta variant. In scientific terms, the Mu variant has eight mutations, but the ones that make it concerning are the mutations E484K and N501Y, which affect new mRNA vaccines. 

The Mu variant focuses on spike proteins that are present in the virus that allow for it to enter our cells. Although when vaccinated, we are exposed to spike proteins that will help us fight it off more efficiently.  This allows the Mu variant to have such a great effect on a vaccinated person and/or a person that currently has the COVID-19 antibodies. This makes the vaccine or antibodies 37% less effective when battling the Mu variant.

This leads to the question, what can someone do to protect themselves from getting the Mu variant or any COVID-19 variant for that matter? The most important thing someone can do is to wear a mask in order to reduce the risk of transmission. They should also practice washing their hands thoroughly whenever they have a chance. It is also important to note that though the vaccine may be compromised against this variant, someone is still at less of a risk of contracting the Mu variant if they are vaccinated compared to an individual who is not yet vaccinated. 

Another way of avoiding the Mu variant is to social distance accordingly whenever an individual is out in crowded areas. Lastly, everyone should make sure they are keeping up with their own personal health by taking their vitamins for their immune system, as it is the biggest soldier in fighting off any virus and keeping your immune health strong ahead of flu season.

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