A coronavirus variant originally discovered in Colombia has made its way to South Florida, and health officials expressed concern about what it means for unvaccinated people, according to The Washington Post.

What is the Florida variant?

The B.1.621 variant — originally discovered in Colombia — has shown up in 10% of coronavirus cases in Miami, Carlos Migoya, CEO of Jackson Health System, told WPLG.

  • Migoya said there is a lot of travel between Colombia and Miami, which is why the South Florida city has seen a rise in the variant.
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The B.1.621 variant is still less prevalent than the delta variant or the gamma variant (which was first discovered in Brazil and has made its way to Japan, according to The Chicago Tribune).

  • The B.1.621 variant has not received a Greek-letter designation, which has often gone to COVID-19 variants.

Is the B.1.621 variant dangerous?

We don’t know. Cases of the variant first popped up in January, The Washington Post reported. There have been 16 cases of the B.1.621 variant in the United Kingdom as well. Many of the cases were linked to international travel, according to The Washington Post.

  • Public Health England said there is no evidence the variant causes more severe disease or makes vaccines less effective.
  • Per The Washington Post, health experts said they will keep an eye on the variant as the fall season begins.
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Florida sees rise in hospitalizations

The variant is hitting Florida as the state experiences a new COVID-19 hospitalization record, per ABC News. In fact, the state’s largest hospital system has had to limit visitors and expand COVID-19 units to help people suffering from COVID-19.

  • “It’s an overwhelming demand in the hospitals right now,” said Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association, according to ABC News. “Now we’re dealing with a relatively new variant mutation. The dramatic increase is so different than last summer” when the previous records were set.