The Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, which probably emerged in Manaus at the end of 2020, may circumvent the immune system of individuals already infected with Covid-19 and cause a new infection, according to a new survey released on Monday (1st). Furthermore, can be up to 2.2 times more transmissible than other variants of the virus.
“This new variant can infect even those who already have antibodies against the new coronavirus after a first natural infection” – Ester Sabino, immunologist and professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of São Paulo (USP)
The study, coordinated by Sabino and Oxford University researcher Nuno Faria, was based on in the genomic analysis of 184 samples from diagnosed patients with Covid-19 in a laboratory in Manaus, between November 2020 and January 2021.
Through mathematical modeling, crossing genomic and mortality data, the research team calculated that the Manaus variant, known as P.1., It is between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than the strains that preceded it, according to a note from the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), which supported the study.
“Scientists also estimate that in part of individuals already infected with SARS-CoV-2 – somewhere between 25% and 61% – the new variant is able to circumvent the immune system and cause a new infection,” said FAPESP. The modeling work was done in collaboration with researchers at Imperial College London.
In the face of a more communicable variant, there is great concern about how vaccines approved against Covid-19 will react to it. According to Sabino, although it also deals with immunity, the study is not related to the possible effectiveness of vaccines, since the work was based only on the immunity of people who have already had the disease.
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“The work suggests that this virus is able to evade the immunity acquired by infection, it is not possible to talk about a vaccine at that moment. Then it will depend on the vaccine, they may be different vaccines”, said the immunologist. The study was sent to a peer review process and is in the process of being evaluated by scientific journals.
The work also pointed out that in just seven weeks to P.1. became the most prevalent strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the Manaus region. According to Sabino, “it seems quite likely” that the new variant can replicate itself more in the human body than the previous strain.
The new variant is pointed out as one of the causes of the collapse of the health system in Manaus earlier this year, when the capital of Amazonas suffered a lack of oxygen in hospitals due to the explosion of new cases, with patients dying suffocated in their beds.