The United States has confirmed the first case of a coronavirus variant that emerged in Brazil adding to the two other recently discovered variants that worries scientists due to their high transmissibility and ability to evade the body’s immune system lessening the efficacy of vaccines.
The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday in a statement that they have found “the variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the Brazil P.1 variant in a specimen from a Minnesota resident with recent travel history to Brazil.”
The patient, a resident of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, tested positive for Covid-19 in early January and was advised to isolate, the statement said. Further test revealed the case to be the Brazil variant of Covid-19.
The variant has been detected in Manaus, Brazil, since at least December.
Reports say scientists are concerned about this variant since it contains a cluster of mutations some of which increase the virus’s transmissibility. Other mutations make the virus evade the body’s immune system, which makes it possible for patients to contract Covid-19 again and even hinder the efficacy of vaccines.
Minnesota state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield underscored the need to “limit travel during a pandemic as much as possible” due to the emergence of the Brazil variant at well as the discovery of three cases of the UK variant in the state in the past few weeks.
US President Joe Biden on Monday re-imposed a travel ban on most non-US citizens who have been to Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe and South Africa
The US has recorded more than 25 million Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
There are thousands of different versions, or variants, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 circulating in the world. However, scientists are more concerned, along with the Brazil variant, with the UK variant that is dominant in Britain and has spread to more than 50 other countries and the South African variant that has spread in at least 20 other countries, including the UK. Rommel F. Lopez