DALLAS - A new variant of COVID-19 has been found in Dallas County.
Five cases of the COVID-19 mu variant have been discovered in testing, officials said.
"At this stage, it’s still in the preliminary category, but certainly something we’re watching," said Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County Health and Human Services.
Nationwide, there are roughly 2,400 cases in 49 states, leaving out only Nebraska.
Huang echoes the World Health Organization experts who say ‘mu’ is a "variant of interest," but has not yet met the criteria for a "variant of concern."
"Thus far it’s still too early to fully know how well the vaccines work against this variant. But thus far the initial testing shows that some of the protection of the Pfizer vaccine is still effective," Huang said.
The cases have been documented by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
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It’s unclear if the persons in Dallas County with the mu variant were previously vaccinated. Community spread is evident as transmission due to travel has been ruled out in some of the cases.
"When I talk to the infectious disease physicians they are discussing it," said Dr. Stephen Love, DFW Hospital Council.
The council is discussing the mu variant in hopes of staying a step ahead of what could become another concern for medical facilities, which are trying to deal with already overburdened staffs and lack of ICU beds because of the delta variant.
"It took it a while to get here so it’s clearly a variant we’re interested in. I won’t say we’re totally concerned, but we don’t know where its going to go at this point," Love said.
With incidence of the mu variant still low, another characteristic to watch is the rate at which it might spread.
"The delta variant went very quickly to become the predominant strain circulating around. At this point the mu variant is still very rare," Huang said.