The P.1 variant (aka. Brazilian variant) was first identified in the U.S. at the end of January. Since then, the CDC has recorded over 60 cases across 18 states. While most of these states report between 1 and 4 cases, Florida alone has reported as many as 23 case counts.
This week, New York detected its first case of the variant in a 90-something Brooklyn resident with no travel history. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release on Saturday,
"The detection of the Brazilian variant here in New York further underscores the importance of taking all the appropriate steps to continue to protect your health."
He then emphasized taking precautionary measures, stating:
"While it's normal for a virus to mutate, the best way to protect yourself is to continue to wear a well-fitted mask, avoid large crowds, social distance, wash your hands, and get vaccinated when it's your turn."
The CDC classifies the P.1 variant as a “variant of concern” due to its high transmissibility, the potential for more severe disease, and minimal effectiveness of treatments or vaccines. It is extremely contagious and can also reinfect those who’ve already recovered from Covid-19.
The variant was first discovered early this year at an airport screening in travelers arriving in Japan from Brazil. This particular strain possesses a set of mutations that increases its ability to elude antibodies.
For this strain to finally make its way into New York is “not that unexpected” according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The fact that NYC’s first case was noted in a much older resident with no travel history, goes to show that there’s"clearly a chain of transmission going on in New York City."
While researchers are yet to further understand this variant and whether Covid vaccines work well against it, it’s worth pointing out that vaccines are proving to be effective at serious disease, hospitalization, and death from it.
Regardless, the message from all health authorities is the same — maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.
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