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Wed Mar 3, 2021, 01:28 AM

Brazil Virus Variant: Infected Many Who Had Recovered From Covid-19; Now In US States

- 'Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19,'- NY Times, March 1, 2021. The first detailed studies of the so-called P.1 variant show how it devastated a Brazilian city. Now scientists want to know what it will do elsewhere. - Excerpts, Ed. -

In just a matter of weeks, two variants of the coronavirus have become so familiar that you can hear their inscrutable alphanumeric names regularly uttered on television news. B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain, has demonstrated the power to spread far and fast. In South Africa, a mutant called B.1.351 can dodge human antibodies, blunting the effectiveness of some vaccines. Scientists have also had their eye on a third concerning variant that arose in Brazil, called P.1. Research had been slower on P.1 since its discovery in late December, leaving scientists unsure of just how much to worry about it.

“I’ve been holding my breath,” said Bronwyn MacInnis, an epidemiologist at the Broad Institute. Now 3 studies offer a sobering history of P.1’s meteoric rise in the Amazonian city of Manaus. It most likely arose there in November and then fueled a record-breaking spike of coronavirus cases. It came to dominate the city partly because of an increased contagiousness, the research found. But it also gained the ability to infect some people who had immunity from previous bouts of Covid-19. And laboratory experiments suggest that P.1 could weaken the protective effect of a Chinese vaccine now in use in Brazil.

The new studies have yet to be published in scientific journals. Their authors caution that findings on cells in laboratories do not always translate to the real world, and they’ve only begun to understand P.1’s behavior. “The findings apply to Manaus, but I don’t know if they apply to other places,” said Nuno Faria, a virologist at Imperial College London who helped lead much of the new research. But even with the mysteries that remain around P.1, experts said it is a variant to take seriously. “It’s right to be worried about P.1, and this data gives us the reason why,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. P.1 is now spreading across the rest of Brazil and has been found in 24 other countries.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 6 cases in 5 states: Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

To reduce the risks of P.1 outbreaks and reinfections, Dr. Faria said it was important to double down on every measure we have to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Masks & social distancing can work against P.1. And vaccination can help drive down its transmission & protect those who do get infected from severe disease.“.. you need to step up all the vaccination efforts as soon as possible,” he said. “You need to be one step ahead of the virus.” Dr. Faria & his colleagues started tracking the coronavirus when it exploded in Brazil last spring. Manaus, a city 2 Mill in the Brazilian Amazon, was hit particularly hard.. But after a peak in late April, Manaus seemed to have gotten past the worst of the pandemic. Some scientists thought that the drop meant Manaus had gained herd immunity. Dr. Faria & his colleagues looked for virus antibodies in samples from a Manaus blood bank in June & Oct. They determined that roughly 3/4ths of the residents of Manaus had been infected.

But near the end of 2020, new cases began surging again. “There were actually far more cases than in the previous peak of cases, which had been in late April,” Dr. Faria said. “And that was very puzzling to us.”...

More,
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/health/covid-19-coronavirus-brazil-variant.html
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- Coronavirus Gets Even Worse In Brazilian Amazon City of Manaus, NPR, Jan. 22, 2021,
https://www.npr.org/2021/01/22/959567446/coronavirus-crisis-gets-even-worse-in-brazilian-amazon-city-of-manaus

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