HUNTSVILLE, Ala — The mission of a virus is to stay alive and in many cases, to do so, a virus must mutate in order to survive.
"I think we have to remember that variants will happen variants will emerge, this is a way for viruses to protect themselves and find a way to survive any intervention that we have, they'll try to find something better to get around it," said Landers.
When it comes to these mutations or more commonly known as variants, there are different levels: variants of interest, concern, or high consequence.
"Variants of concern are variants that have been indicated to cause some problems such as: increase in disease, potential ability to escape therapeutics or potentially worse disease and just for example, Delta was moved from a variant of interest to a variant of concern because of transmissibility," said Landers.
The Delta variant is currently still considered a variant of concern but the Mu variant is not at this time.
"The Mu variant, which WHO has at least, as of the moment, designated as a variant of interest. CDC has not yet designated that in the United States, there's an extremely small number of the variant that has been picked up in surveillance in the United States," said Landers.
So, should we be concerned? Short answer: as of right now, no.
"Again, it may or may not prove to be anything that we need to have further concern about so. Therefore, it is a variant of interest by WHO and CDC has not made a designation yet on the new variant."
Landers says there is a way to decrease the chance of more mutations and that is - to get vaccinated; the more people vaccinated, the less chance the virus has to mutate.
"My overarching message remains that at this point in time, we have safe, effective and free vaccines, and if we quit giving this virus opportunities to mutate, by having less disease - more vaccination and obviously following our mitigation, then we really won't be going through the rest of the Greek alphabet," said Landers.