KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 10, 2021 - Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has confirmed that the new variant B.1.621 – 'Mu' variant of COVID-19 is in Jamaica.
Dr. Tufton, who made the announcement at a news conference yesterday, said 26 cases of the variant were found from the testing of 92 samples.
Five cases of the coronavirus strain were confirmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this week.
The Mu variant, which was first identified in Colombia, was named a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization on August 30.
It has been recorded in 49 US states, with Florida and California reporting the highest numbers of infections.
Scientists have warned that this new variant of COVID could be more transmissible than even the Delta variant, and could be vaccine resistant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on August 30th, 2021, named the variant B.1.621 – Mu, a variant of interest. A variant of interest (VOI) is one that has genetic differences to the other known variants and is causing infections in multiple countries, and therefore might present a particular threat to public health.
A VOI is not a variant of concern (VOC), which is a variant that has been proven to be either more transmissible, cause severe disease or is able to escape the immune response making it more dangerous and so more consequential.
Mu is the fifth “variant of interest” to be monitored by WHO since March 2020. The WHO weekly COVID-19 bulletin states that this variant of interest “has a constellation of mutations” that may make it less susceptible to vaccines and immunity from natural infections. Research and further monitoring will be done to better understand the characteristics of this variant of interest.