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Experts say mu variant of COVID is in Houston, but focus should remain on delta and getting vaccinated

The World Health Organization calls it a 'variant of interest,' but experts say the focus should still be on the delta variant and getting vaccinated.
Credit: KHOU

HOUSTON — Houston health experts say they’re keeping a close eye on the Mu variant of COVID-19.

Doctors at Houston Methodist say more than 40 people have already been infected with the Mu variant here in Houston, but they say delta is still what we should be most worried about.

RELATED: What is the new COVID-19 'Mu' variant?

The highly contagious delta variant makes up 99 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Houston, data shows.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization issued a warning about the Mu variant, which is responsible for a big outbreak in Colombia and Central America.

Check this map to see how many COVID cases are in your area:

“It has been around at a very low level here in Houston since May,” said Dr. Wesley Long with Houston Methodist.

Houston Methodist analyzes the genetic makeup of every positive COVID test done throughout the system -- not just hospitalizations. That’s how Dr. Long says they’ve diagnosed more than 40 cases of the Mu variant in the last few months.

RELATED: Texas Children's Hospital: 300+ kids have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours

Although it’s been deemed a variant of interest, Dr. Long says in Houston, delta has remained clearly dominant, responsible for thousands of cases in that same time frame.

“Just because something looks concerning in a dish in a lab doesn’t mean it’s going to be more concerning when it comes to people,” he said.

While health experts are monitoring Mu, Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine says we have to deal with delta first.

“I think the key is the vaccinate our way out of delta,” he said. “The problem is the bar is really high. We’re looking at needing to vaccinate 90 percent of the US population. It may require three doses of the mRNA vaccines in order to make that happen.”

In Harris County, about 60 percent of the eligible population has rolled up their sleeves for the first two doses.

RELATED: Dr. Peter Hotez talks about Labor Day weekend crowds, the Mu variant, boosters and more


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