The new strain of covid-19 detected in Brazil, P.1, may have a viral load up to ten times higher and is able to evade the immune system of those who already had antibodies, two preliminary studies reveal.
“It probably does all three things at the same time: it is more transmissible, it invades the immune system more and probably it must be more pathogenic,” said today to the Spanish agency EFE Ester Sabino, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP ) and coordinator of the USP group that participated in the investigation carried out by the Brazil-United Kingdom Center for Abrovirus Discovery and Diagnosis (CADDE).
The preliminary study, carried out by Brazilian and English researchers and released last Friday, suggests that the new variant detected in the state of Amazonas is between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than those that precede it and “probably” this is one of the factors responsible for the second wave of the new coronavirus pandemic in Brazil.
The scientists also concluded that the new strain is able to evade the immune system and cause a new infection in part of the individuals already infected with SARS-CoV-2, specifically between 25 and 61%.
“You can’t explain so many cases except for the loss of immunity,” said Ester Sabino, who coordinated the study with researcher Nuno Faria, from the University of Oxford.
The preliminary study, based on a mathematical model carried out by Imperial College London, is based on the analysis of the genomes of 184 samples of nasopharyngeal secretions from patients diagnosed with covid-19 in laboratories in Manaus between November 2020 and January 2021.
The capital of the State of Amazonas, Manaus, was one of the pandemic foci in Brazil, both in the first and in the second wave of the pandemic, and has been experiencing a health collapse since the end of last year due to the explosion of cases and hospitalizations Covid-19.
The investigation, which was supported by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), has not yet been reviewed by other scientists or published in scientific journals, but is available ‘online’.
Likewise, another study also released last Friday by researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the Amazon region indicates that the viral load on the body of individuals infected with P.1 can be up to ten times higher.
Brazil, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in the world, has accumulated 10,587,001 infections since the first case of the disease was registered, on February 26 last year, and 255,720 deaths.
These figures confirm the South American nation, with its 212 million inhabitants, as one of the global focuses of the covid-19 and as the second country with the most deaths from the disease in the world, surpassed only by the United States, and as the third with more infections, behind the North American country and India.
The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,531,448 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 114 million cases of infection, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.