The World Health Organization (WHO) put the variant of coronavirus that was detected in Colombia in January on a watchlist amid concerns it may be resistant to vaccines.
The discovery of the so-called Mu variant was first announced by the director of the National Health Institute (INS), Martha Ospina, who raised no concern about the possible dangers posed by the so-called B.1.621.
The INS chief said last week, however, that the Mu variant may have contributed to the high number of infections and deaths recorded during a third peak that started in early March and peaked around 700 daily deaths at the end of June.
Currently, more than half of the current COVID-19 cases in Colombia correspond to people who were infected by the Mu variant, Ospina told local media.
Daily COVID-19 infections in Colombia
The virus has since been detected in some 40 countries around the world.
The INS director objected to the Mu variant being referred to as “a Colombian variant” as the strain “was already circulating in Spain and the United States at the time” it was detected by Colombian scientists.
The WHO deemed the strain “of interest” earlier this week because of the the possibly higher risk of infection and possible resistance to vaccines.
Additionally, the strain originally detected by the INS appear to have have generated other mutations that would need further investigation in order to detect the Mu variant’s possible risk.
The WHO concerns come just as the deadliest coronavirus peak since the beginning of the pandemic has come to an end.
Colombian health authorities have expressed concern about a possible fourth peak as the Health Ministry’s National Vaccination Plan is running into all kinds of issues.
Most recently, regional health authorities have been reporting vaccine shortages that would allow them to administer the necessary second shot.
National Vaccination Plan rollout
Since the beginning of the pandemic, health authorities have registered more than 4.9 million infections in Colombia. More than 125,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the South American country.