The latest coronavirus variant of interest has been confirmed in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health says the Mu variant appeared in 13 lab samples between May 20 and Aug. 10. The World Health Organization has designated Mu a variant of interest because preliminary evidence shows it may be able to escape antibodies acquired through vaccination or previous infection.
"We still need more clinical data to support that conclusion, and right now, we are finding that vaccines are still largely effective against variants with similar characteristics. The CDC has not yet classified the Mu variant, and we are still seeing that a majority of cases in Oklahoma and in the U.S. are attributed to the Delta variant," said OSDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gitanjali Pai.
Scientists currently believe Mu won’t overtake the more-contagious Delta variant in places where it’s already prevalent.
"However, the advice for preventing and treating COVID does remain the same: Get your vaccine as soon as you're able, follow the three W's — wear a mask wash your hands, watch your distance, particularly in crowded indoor settings — and we also strongly encourage the use of monoclonal antibodies, which are available under emergency use authorization, for treatment as well as post-exposure prophylaxis in high-risk populations," Pai said.
To date, 45% of all Oklahomans have been fully vaccinated against COVID, a rate lower than all but 12 other states. When it comes to those eligible for vaccination, people 12 and older, 54% of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated. Just 11 states have rates lower than that.