What is the difference between the Brazilian strain P.1, and why covid reoccurrence is possible

The emergency in Brazil is attributed to the rapid spread of the P.1 variant of the coronavirus. It is distinguished by its excessive infectiousness and the ability to infect those who have already had coronavirus, Deutsche Welle reports. As of April, the daily death toll in Brazil exceeds 3,000.

For the first time, variant P.1 was found in Brazil, its increased infectiousness led to an increase in the number of deaths to 1000 people per day. However, at the end of March this figure increased to 3 thousand or more. Of the new cases in a country with a population of 200 million, 90% are in P.1. There are currently 13 million people officially registered with the coronavirus in Brazil. But given that the situation has gotten out of control and the number of unrecorded cases is growing, experts say that the number of infected is an order of magnitude higher.

The first case of variant P.1 was detected in the city of Manaus (Brazil) on January 10. The virus is distinguished by the presence of 17 mutations, with 3 of them located in the spike protein, and the key one is the E484K mutation. It is the latter, according to experts, that protects the virus from the immune response, so even a person who has had a previous illness is easily infected with this option again. This is confirmed by the situation that has arisen in the 2 millionth Manaus. By the time P.1 was discovered, 3/4 of its inhabitants had already suffered from covid and could count on acquired herd immunity. But hopes were not justified.

To date, the P.1 mutation has already been found in Colombia, Mexico, Sweden, Belgium and some other countries. Recent studies by scientists indicate that the disease does not have more severe symptoms than with the usual SARS-CoV-2. However, the extreme infectivity of the Brazilian variant raises serious concerns, and the impossibility of obtaining reliable data, due to the practical collapse of the Brazilian health care system, does not allow us to draw a statistically substantiated conclusion about the real degree of danger of the P.1 mutation.

Researchers have an acute question about the effectiveness of approved vaccines against variant P.1. Experts do not yet have a complete answer, due to the lack of study of the strain, but some data are already available. Laboratory studies have shown that antibodies created with the drugs BioNTech / Pfizer and AstraZeneca are able to neutralize the Brazilian variant, but they are less effective against P.1 than against other strains, writes Deutsche Welle.

It was also possible to establish that AstraZeneca is less effective against the South African variant, which, by analogy with the Brazilian variant, has mutations located in the spike protein. Nevertheless, vaccination with AstraZeneca makes sense, since in this case, even if infected with one of the new variants of the coronavirus, the symptoms of the disease will be milder. In addition, it is an established fact that people who have been vaccinated rarely need intensive care, which reduces the number of deaths.

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