The World Health Organization is classifying a new COVID-19 variant as of “interest,” although it’s not yet as concerning as a more dominant type.
The mu variant is being seen more often but currently is less of a worry than the delta variant, which is spreading more widely.
Dr. Michael Grantham, a biology professor at Missouri Western State University, has a doctorate in microbiology and immunology and said the delta variant still is the most prominent type in the United States. He said a misconception is that every variant is a more prominent or potent strand.
“They mutate every single time they replicate. Most of the time, those mutations will either make the virus worse off or have no effect on the virus whatsoever,” Grantham said. “Lots of mutations that happen actually make the virus not as good at replicating or not as good a transmission.”
Dr. Scott Folk, an infectious disease doctor at Mosaic Life Care, said as we continue to see a strong presence of the COVID-19 virus, mutations will continue to happen.
“There’s always going to be a concern that when the next new variant comes along, how effective is it going to be managed by the current vaccines,” he said. “We’re going to, unfortunately, be stuck with that, I think, for quite a while.”
Grantham said the way COVID-19 vaccines work is still fairly effective in preventing severe illness, so people shouldn’t be worried constantly about every new variant.
“People that are vaccinated can be infected, but they’ll be infected at lower rates than people that are unvaccinated,” Grantham said. “And if you compare delta with the original virus, the vaccines aren’t quite as protective as far as the infection goes.”