A resident of Twin Cities metro area, the person with the Brazil coronavirus variant recently returned to Minnesota after having traveled to Brazil
The first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant, which originated in Brazil, has reached the US. Health officials confirmed that the first known case of P.1 Covid-19 strain in the US has been identified in a patient in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced on January 25 that its public health laboratory has found the P.1 variant in a “specimen from a Minnesota resident with recent travel history to Brazil.”
The announcement came as President Joe Biden signed an order extending a travel ban barring nearly all non-US citizens who have recently been to Brazil, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, and 26 other European countries from entering the US.
Cases of the British coronavirus variant have also been identified in Minnesota in the past few weeks. “These cases illustrate why it is so important to limit travel during a pandemic as much as possible. If you must travel, it is important to watch for symptoms of Covid-19, follow public health guidance on getting tested prior to travel, use careful protective measures during travel, and quarantine and get tested after travel,” suggests state epidemiologist Dr Ruth Lynfield.
Several new coronavirus variants emerged in the fall of 2020, most notably, the UK one that is known as 20I/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01, or B.1.1.7; the South African variant called 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351, and the P.1 strain.
The P.1 variant emerged in Brazil and was first reported by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in Japan in four travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan. This variant has 17 unique mutations, including three in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein.
“There is evidence to suggest that some of the mutations in the P.1 variant may affect its transmissibility and antigenic profile, which may affect the ability of antibodies generated through a previous natural infection or through vaccination to recognize and neutralize the virus,” caution researchers.
Analysis indicates that P.1 accounted for 42% of confirmed cases in Manaus, Brazil, in mid/late-December. “In this region, it is estimated that approximately 75% of the population had been infected with SARS-CoV2 as of October 2020. However, since mid-December, the region has observed a surge in cases. The emergence of this variant raises concerns of a potential increase in transmissibility or propensity for SARS-CoV-2 re-infection of individuals,” emphasize experts.
While 293 cases of the UK variant have been detected in the US so far, this is the nation’s first known coronavirus case. Brinkwire Brief News.