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Monday, Jun 14, 2021

New Covid variant identified – responsible for 6% of the cases in Rio de Janeiro

New Covid variant identified – responsible for 6% of the cases in Rio de Janeiro

The new variant of covid-19 was identified in 5.86% of 376 blood samples from patients with covid-19 that were genetically analyzed in March.
The Brazilian health authorities identified a new variant of covid-19, derived from the so-called Brazilian variant (P.1), which already accounts for almost 6% of the coronavirus cases registered in Rio de Janeiro , the third largest state. town of the country.

The new variant of covid-19 was identified in 5.86% of 376 blood samples from patients with covid-19 that were genetically analyzed in March and April of this year, the Rio de Janeiro regional health secretariat reported in a statement released this Thursday.

"The strain was baptized as P.1.2 because it is a mutation of the P.1 lineage (Brazilian variant), which continues to be the main responsible for the cases registered in Rio de Janeiro, with 91.49% of infections" according to the note.

P.1, already detected in at least 50 countries, is a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that emerged at the end of 2020 in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and whose virulence is attributed to the strong growth in infections and deaths from covid -19 registered by Brazil in the last two months.

The expansion of this variant generated a second wave of the pandemic in the largest Latin American country, which is one of the hardest hit by covid-19 in the world, with some 415,000 deaths and almost 15 million infected.

According to the Rio de Janeiro Health Secretariat, the new genetic study of the COVID cases registered in this Brazilian state showed that P.1 presented new alterations, the epidemiological impact of which will have to be analyzed.

So far it has not been established whether P.1 or P.1.2 are more lethal than the original covid variants or if they resist all the vaccines developed so far, but some studies have shown that the Brazilian variant is at least three times more contagious.

After P.1 (91.49%) and P.1.2 (5.86%), the covid-19 variants with the highest circulation in Rio de Janeiro are B.1.1.7 (British), with 2 , 13% of cases, and P.2 (0.53%), the latter also arising in this Brazilian state, according to the genetic sequences of the virus made from samples of 376 patients who contracted coronavirus in 57 different municipalities between March 24 and April 16.

"The new variant was found mainly in the northern region of the state of Rio de Janeiro, but also in the metropolitan area and in coastal municipalities," said Claudia Mello, the undersecretary of Health Surveillance of the secretariat.

"So far it cannot be evaluated whether this new variant is more transmissible or lethal. We have to deepen the studies to establish its epidemiological behavior," he added.

The Regional Secretary of Health, Alexandre Chieppe, stated that it is necessary to carry out the genetic sequence of the largest number of samples possible in order to verify the incidence of new strains in the population and, thus, anticipate possible scenarios and try to minimize the effects of the pandemic.

Different scientists have warned about the possibility that, with the pandemic still out of control, Brazil could become the cradle of new, more resistant variants of the covid.
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