As you’ve probably heard by now, there’s a new COVID-19 variant in town. Well, it’s not really new—it was first discovered in January—but health officials are newly keeping a close watch on it.
The mu variant, or B.1.621, was labeled a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of last month. It’s most common in the United States, Columbia, Spain, and Ecuador. Although SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest have the potential to increase to the more serious “variant of concern” designation, that doesn’t mean they will. Importantly, the mu variant peaked in the United States in July. The delta variant, by contrast, currently accounts for more than 99% of all sequenced COVID-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and delta is likely to be the biggest concern for the foreseeable future. In fact, if you check out the CDC’s variant tracker, mu hasn’t even made the list yet.
Still, if you’re looking to track where and how the mu variant is spreading, there are a couple of tools that let easily you do that. We’ve rounded them up below:
- Pangolin: This tool links directly from the WHO’s website. According to its description, it was “developed to implement the dynamic nomenclature of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, known as the Pango nomenclature.” It includes an interactive map for each variant along with a graph of known cases and countries. Find the mu variant page here.
- GISAID: The Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data is keeping track of all kinds of variants by summarizing the sequence of genomes. Just visit the main variant page, click the drop-down menu, and select “mu.”