Jamaica officials have reported dozens of confirmed cases of the Mu variant of COVID-19 on the island. This comes a few days after the the Ministry of Health and Wellness in St Vincent and the Grenadines reported a number of cases of the newest Variant of Interest (VOI).
According to Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, 26 of the 96 samples tested have returned positive results for the new strain.
The World Health Organization (WHO), on August 30, listed Mu as a Variant of Interest (VOI), after it was first identified in Columbia.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said that the VOI designation implies that the variant has genetic differences compared to other known variants, causing infections in multiple countries and might present a threat to public health.
She pointed out that while all viruses evolve over time and most changes have little to no impact on the virus properties, “some changes to the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID) lead to variants that may affect virus transmissibility, disease severity, and the efficacy of vaccines”.
“It is of concern because [it has the potential to] evade the body’s attempts to destroy the virus and to produce antibodies. Mu has mutations that might confirm some of these properties, but it is still being investigated,” she noted.