Brazilian Covid variant detected in NYC causes concern in the U.S.

New York detected its first case of the coronavirus variant initially found in Brazil, known as P.1, joining the ranks of at least 18 states reporting cases of the new variant.

The case, a Brooklyn resident in their 90s with no travel history, was identified by scientists at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 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,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“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,” he said.

PHOTO: A Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) worker receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination for MTA employees at Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal  in New York,March 10, 2021.  (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: A Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) worker receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination for MTA employees at Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York,March 10, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters, FILE)

The P.1 variant is considered to be a “variant of concern” because evidence suggests that it is highly transmissible and has the potential to reinfect people who have already been sick. The P.1 variant was first identified in January during an airport screening in Japan of travelers from Brazil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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After a severe outbreak last spring, antibody testing of blood banks in Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, suggested that three-quarters of the city’s population had been infected. Scientists thought Manaus might have reached herd immunity, but then infections spiked again at the end of 2020, leading scientists to believe that the P.1 variant could reinfect people who had recovered from infections caused by other variants.

PHOTO: A worker wearing a protective suit and carrying an umbrella walks past the graves of COVID-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, in Manaus, Brazil, Feb. 25, 2021.  (Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: A worker wearing a protective suit and carrying an umbrella walks past the graves of COVID-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, in Manaus, Brazil, Feb. 25, 2021. (Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

“Finding it in New York is not that unexpected,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said of the P.1 variant.

Since the first case detected in New York was in an older resident with no travel history, there’s “clearly a chain of transmission going on in New York City,” he added.

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