LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Across the country, more states are reporting a new variant of COVID-19.
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the state's epidemiologist, said the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC are watching closely. However, she doesn't want people to take their attention away from the delta variant.
The state has seen rising numbers of those fighting COVID from a hospital bed, mostly because of the delta variant.
The mu variant is now getting the attention of health officials here in the state.
"I do not believe that this mu variant will outcompete the delta variant that is circulating at this time," Dillaha said. "It has mutations that raise concerns for the possibility that it may spread more readily than other variants."
The World Health Organization has now categorized mu as a variant of interest.
What that means, as of now, is the variant has not proven to be more infectious or that it cause more severe disease like the aggressive Delta variant.
"It is not really circulating the U.S. We have cases, but we don't show that it is more transmissible than anything else yet," Dr. Dillaha said.
Here's what we know so far:
The first case of the mu variant was reported in April and the latest case was reported in August.
The variant originated in Columbia, South America and has been detected in 49 states.
In Arkansas, the delta variant still dominates and Dillaha said she does not want people to let their guard down about that.
"[It] is more infectious or causes more severe disease and none of that has been shown yet for the mu variant, but it certainly has for the delta variant," Dillaha said.
She said there is no evidence to prove that the mu variant is resistant to the vaccine or monoclonal antibodies.
Dillaha added that the best line of defense is getting the vaccine.