Here’s what we know so far about Delta, Mu, other COVID-19 variants tracked by San Antonio researchers

Scientists say it’s tough to predict what virus will do next

SAN ANTONIO – Researcher Jean Patterson, Ph.D., with Texas Biomed Research Institute, says scientists around the world are watching, studying and monitoring the mutation of COVID-19 to see what new clusters of variants stick around.

“The virus is under pressure to survive, so the virus is constantly making mutations. That makes it more survivable in whatever environment it’s in,” Patterson said.

Some of that vital research is happening in San Antonio at Texas Biomed Research Institute.

The World Health Organization is tracking several variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. It also has another list of variants of interest: Eta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Mu. The variants’ names were changed to letters in the Greek alphabet instead of their place of origin to avoid stigma.

Patterson said those variants are likely already in each continent.

“I don’t think we have any evidence yet that any of them are more dangerous. They’re more transmissible,” Patterson said.

Scientists have not yet figured out if and when the pandemic will end. One hypothesis out there, Patterson says, is that the Delta variant might have fizzled out the other variants.

“If you’re trying to get to a place where a good proportion of the community is immune, either by vaccination or by having been infected, Delta may have contributed to our immunity as a community,” she said of the hypothesis.

Others disagree with that hypothesis because it’s tough to predict what the variants will do next to survive.

“This is a very clever virus that’s been able to mutate in very clever ways and making its survivability harder to predict,” Patterson said.


What is the mu variant of the coronavirus?

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.