Florida health officials expressed concern about the spread of new COVID-19 variants within the state.
What variants are spreading in Florida?
- “One of them is called lambda, and it’s been named as a variant of interest by the WHO, and it’s the dominant variant in South America and Peru,” Teng said.
- The lambda variant has made headlines recently for being an emerging variant in the U.S. Recent research suggests that the variant might evade COVID-19 vaccines, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
The other is the B.1.621 variant, Teng said. That variant has been spreading fast in the Jacksonville, Florida, area.
- “There’s another variant that has not received the WHO designation, and it’s called B1-621, and that one became dominant in Colombia, and these two variants have some level of transmissibility at least in those two countries,” Teng told WFLA-TV.
What is the B.1.621 variant? Is it the zeta variant?
Reports of a new Florida variant started spreading at the beginning of August when The Washington Post reported that the B.1.621 variant, which was originally identified in Colombia, had found its way to South Florida.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said that the variant has a number of changes that made it similar to the delta variant.
- However, he said it also has some connections to the South African and Brazilian variants, which made it more transmissible. And there was some speculation that it could evade vaccines.
- “I don’t think it has a Greek letter designation yet but based on these properties and the fact that we allowed it to take hold due to low vaccination rates in the South, (and their place in the Greek alphabet), I propose ζ,” he said.
The ζ symbol represents “zeta” in the Greek alphabet. The letter ζ, is the sixth letter in the Greek alphabet.
Should Florida be worried about COIVD-19 variants?
Overall, officials said they’ve seen few cases of people with these variants and the delta variant remains the main threat. But the health care official wants to watch these variants to see if they spread quicker in the coming days.