'Not the last one:' Health experts weigh in as cases of Mu variant reported across the Bay Area

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Health experts weigh in after Mu variant reported in Bay Area
Here's what local health experts are saying about the COVID-19 Mu variant after cases were reported in the Bay Area.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As long as there is on-going COVID-19 transmission somewhere in the world, there will be new variants. That's according to infectious disease expert, Dr. Jorge Salinas with Stanford Healthcare.

"I am very hopeful that going forward, it is going to be less important to know the name of the variant, given that the recommendations continue being the same," Dr. Salinas told ABC7 News.

He emphasized several best practices that most have grown accustomed to during the pandemic, like getting vaccinated and wearing masks. Dr. Salinas amplified that taking these steps will protect people from a list of mutations including the new Mu variant.

RELATED: Is the mu variant worse than delta? What to know about COVID-19 mutations

After reaching out to all Bay Area counties on Tuesday, Marin County reported three cases of Mu, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported 12 cases, and Santa Clara County reported 27 cases.

"It just really highlights the fact that there's going to be new variants coming in," Dr. Ahmad Kamal, Director of Healthcare Preparedness for Santa Clara County said. "And that we do need to get vaccinated because the more we allow the virus to replicate, the more chance it has to mutate and form these new variants."

Dr. Kamal added, he's encouraged with 82-percent of county residents fully vaccinated.

VIDEO: Bay Area health official explains concerns with highly mutated C.1.2 coronavirus variant

The C.1.2 variant identified in South Africa is raising eyebrows, in part because it's highly mutated.

"But we really want to get those last few people who may be on the fence and may be hesitant to really do it," Dr. Kamal shared. "It's never too late to get vaccinated. And it's very helpful to yourself, to your community, and really for the future of all of us."

Dr. Kamal noted the overwhelming majority of people in hospitals across the county are unvaccinated.

"In fact, we're seeing even younger people than we were seeing before being hospitalized. And the story is almost always the same, it's someone who did not get their vaccine and winds up sicker than they thought they would get."

During the most recent White House COVID-19 Response Team and Task Force briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the bottom line is officials are paying close attention to this new strain, although his team doesn't consider Mu an immediate threat.

RELATED: Doctors suggest we should have waited longer between doses of Pfizer, Moderna vaccines

"Not to downplay it," Dr. Fauci told reporters. "We take it very seriously. But remember, even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of the vaccines, the vaccines are still quite effective."

However, now some are questioning whether we could soon see variant-specific boosters for pointed protection.

"I think it would be ideal, but there are multiple practical issues related to it," Dr. Salinas shared. "Regulatory issues, the development of it, the production may take several months to get to that point."

It's time, he explained, that some health experts feel isn't feasible when up against this ever-mutating enemy.

"There are some experts that believe that immunity wanes a few months after your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, and that a booster shot would be needed relatively soon," he continued. "And that may be sooner than it is feasible to produce a booster tailored to Delta, Mu or the next variant."

Dr. Fauci reminding, "The Delta is more than 99-percent dominant."

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