If you were paying attention, you’ll realize Mu is not new. If you weren’t paying attention, which I suspect most were not because they were so distracted by Delta or because they just don’t care about this sort of detail, Mu was the COVID mutant that originated in Colombia and killed a few immunized oldsters in a Belgian convalescent hospital.
I wrote about it here on August 6.
The esoteric path which this variant took to reach us is emblematic of COVID’s surreptitious attack. Colombian born (sorry, is that bad to say?) as “B.1.621” in January, this variant displayed some “interesting” viral traits, hence its Variance of Interest designation by the WHO. Interesting to epidemiologists, perhaps, but not to the general public. The WHO sat on naming this bad boy for 8 months. It circulated as the virus we shall not name Colombian and hence, was shielded from the public eye because the simplistic media had no snazzy politically-neutral moniker to affix its stories on.
That’s all changed. Amid little fanfare, “Mu” was re-born last week, like a butterfly reborn from its pathogenic cocoon. The virus, formerly known as Colombian, was handed a new handle and the media responded with renewed coverage and chicken little histrionics as if the virus had just been born this morning.
Like a ridiculous viral reveal party, we face an panicky onslaught of an 8-month-old mutation.
Given that it takes well over 6 months for a new variant to seep into the public consciousness, a function of the public’s lazy ignorance and the media’s reliance on catchy names to cover, we have to assume there are many, many variants making their way through the global human population that may very well manifest as a “new” danger in another year. Now that vaccines are predominant, the evolutionary squeeze is on COVID and its furtive strategy will rely on our myopia to spread before it’s given a name so we can pay attention. The vaccines, by offering the vaccinated protection against symptoms, as opposed to infection, are shielding births of new variants from view. And since we don’t realize they exist until they have an official WHO name, they have a few more month’s head-start.