A new variant of the coronavirus that emerged within the heart of the Brazilian Amazon has reignited the international alert. Scientists are now striving to unravel the mysteries of this variant that has already been identified in eight countries and should be more infectious, although little is understood about it. There are indications that the one baptized as P.1 is one of the factors behind the explosion of COVID-19 cases in Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, where health services are completely overwhelmed.
With a better number of mutations, it’s also being studied whether the Brazilian is more dangerous than the variants found within the UK and South Africa, which are the three that the majority concern the planet Health Organization (WHO). Amid this worrying finding, the pandemic is hitting all of Brazil once more, which already accumulates 222,666 deaths and 9.1 million cases, consistent with official data.
WHERE AND WHEN DID THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT APPEAR?
The first alarm was raised by the Japanese authorities on January 9, after analyzing the samples of 4 passengers who arrived every week before in Tokyo after traveling for a season through the Amazon. A preliminary investigation by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a number one medical research facility in Latin America, indicated that this new variant may be a “recent phenomenon”.It was probably developed in December and evolved from variants that were in circulation within the Amazon. In fact, in Manaus, about 30 variants of the coronavirus have already been detected, but the foremost disturbing is P.1, consistent with José Eduardo Levi, a researcher at the Institute of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo (USP).
WHAT CHARACTERIZES IT? WHAT PERCENTAGE MUTATIONS DOES IT HAVE?
According to Fiocruz, the Manaus variant accumulated during a short space of your time “some bizarre genetic alterations”, several of them within the protein “spike” (spike), which the new coronavirus uses to enter into human cells.12 mutations are identified only during this “spike” protein of the Brazilian variant, three of them are of particular concern: K417N, E484K, N501Y.
IS IT MORE CONTAGIOUS?
These three sets of letters and numbers represent amino acids of the “spike”, whose mutation is related to a greater power of transmissibility. they might help the virus to duplicate more and better assemble with the cell’s entry receptor. It is as if you’ve got a door, which is that the cell, and therefore the lock, which is that the receiver. And now you’ve got an epidemic that opens that lock more easily. If it manages to enter more neatly, the facility of being more infectious increases, Felipe Nevada, a virologist at the Leonidas & Maria Deane Institute (Fiocruz Amazonia) tells. On the opposite hand, it’s unknown whether this new variant produces more serious pictures of the disease.
WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL FOR REINFECTION?
So far there’s a confirmed case of an individual who contracted the coronavirus in March 2020 and was reinfected by the Amazon variant, despite having antibodies.“We haven’t any way of affirming that the virus escaped the antibodies or if they were so low that they were unable to neutralize it. this is often understudy, ”says Nevada.
DOES IT IS SIMILAR WITH BRITISH AND SOUTH AFRICAN?
The Brazilian didn’t emerge from the British or the South African. All three evolved independently and arose sporadically altogether three countries, although a number of the mutations identified within the spike protein are found to be an equivalent .” We believe that they’re more contagious because they need that mutation in common that increases transmissibility,” says Levi, a virologist also at the DASA laboratory. Levi believes that the Brazilian might be the foremost “dangerous”, a minimum of thanks to the number of mutations identified within the “spike” protein: 12 compared to eight found within the British or 10 within South African.
IS THE AMAZON VARIANT BEHIND THE COLLAPSE IN MANAUS?
The numbers say yes, but it might not be the sole explanation for chaos within the Brazilian Amazon capital. The samples analyzed in December by Fiocruz detected P.1 in 51% of the cases. That percentage has soared to 91% in January, indicating that it’s spreading fast and has become the predominant lineage within the Amazon. However, other factors have also contributed to the tragedy in Manaus. In these months there’s a greater circulation of other respiratory viruses within the Amazon region, like influenza, complemented by social exhaustion of the distancing measures within the middle of the Christmas holidays. All this, alongside the new variant and therefore the scarce hospital infrastructure in Amazonas, has caused the collapse of its health system and a shortage of oxygen for critically ill patients that would have caused more deaths. The Brazilian Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello, is being investigated for this.
IS THERE A RISK OF AN AGGRAVATION OF THE PANDEMIC IN BRAZIL?
According to the experts consulted, if this new variant is established throughout the territory, which can already be happening, it may aggravate the fragile health situation of the country. Former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was dismissed within the middle of the pandemic by President Jair Bolsonaro for defending isolation, alerted in an interview to an area television that the new variant could cause a “mega-epidemic” in 60 days if not action is taken. At the instant, in Brazil, outside of Amazonas, three imported cases of the variant are detected within the state of Sao Paulo (southeast), but the amount could also be much higher.
IN WHICH OTHER COUNTRIES HAS IT BEEN DETECTED?
According to the planet Health Organization (WHO), cases of this new lineage have already been identified in seven other countries besides Brazil: Japan, the us, the UK, Italy, Germany, South Korea, and Ireland. Some of these nations et al., like Portugal, Peru, Turkey, or Colombia, have suspended flights from Brazil thanks to fear of P.1.ARE TODAY’S
Several of the vaccines developed so far were designed from the “spike” protein of the coronavirus. In this sense, for people who are based purely on this protein, the mutations registered within the British, South African, and Brazilian variants can cause a loss of efficacy of those formulas, “although not total”, considers Levi.