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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Anthony Fauci. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said at a press briefing Thursday that the coronavirus variant Mu, which the World Health Organization is now tracking, does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S.

Driving the news: WHO added the Mu strain, first detected in Colombia in January, to its "Variants of Interest" list Monday, warning that early data suggest it may be more resistant to protection from prior infection or vaccination.

  • Mu has been detected in 39 countries, and has been increasingly prevalent in South America. It currently makes up 39% of cases in Colombia and 13% in Ecuador.

The big picture: Fauci said that while officials are "keeping a very close eye" on Mu's presence in the U.S., the variant is "not at all even close to being dominant."

  • The Delta variant, he added, is "more than 99% dominant."
  • “We’re paying attention to it, we take everything like that seriously, but we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,”

But, but, but: Fauci said there isn't much clinical data available yet, and most of the information was coming from laboratory in-vitro data.

  • "Not to downplay it, we take it very seriously, but remember, even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of the vaccines, the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that type," Fauci said.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

CDC director: U.S. may change definition of "fully vaccinated" as boosters roll out

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the U.S. "may need to update" its definition for what it means to have full vaccination against COVID.

The big picture: The CDC and the FDA have officially approved boosters with every authorized vaccine in the U.S. for people who meet specific requirements. Walensky explained that since not everyone is eligible for a booster, the definition has not been changed "yet."

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

Illinois mandates daycare workers to receive COVID vaccine or weekly testing

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students in October 2018. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Friday that all daycare workers in the state will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or or submit to weekly testing.

Driving the news: Pritzker said he was issuing the requirement to protect "babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine."

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.

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