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Florida reports first case of P.1 virus variant first detected in Brazil

CDC: 5 cases of variant reported across 4 US states

Florida has reported its first case of P.1, a COVID-19 variant that was first detected in Brazil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Having a Brazil variant here says this thing’s not done with us yet,” Dr. Todd Husty, EMS Medical Director, Seminole County said. “It’s really all the more reason to get more people vaccinated because we have variants coming up.”

As of Thursday, Florida had only reported one case of P.1 and was one of only four states reporting confirmed cases of the variant in the U.S., according to a map from the CDC. Maryland, Oklahoma and Minnesota have also reported cases of the P.1 variant, the map shows. A total of five cases have been reported nationwide.

According to the CDC, the P.1 variant was first found in travelers in Brazil. The first instance of the variant in the U.S. was reported in late January, according to the CDC.

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“In Brazil, a variant of SARS-CoV-2 (known as P.1) emerged that was first was identified in four travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan. This variant has 17 unique mutations, including three in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein. This variant was detected in the US at the end of January 2021,” the CDC wrote on its website.

Scientists said there is evidence to believe some of the mutations in the variant could affect how easily it’s transmitted and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being administered.

“The Brazil variant, it may be a little more resistant to our vaccinations, but not entirely,” Husty added. “That means we need to get more people vaccinated.  We really need to keep wearing our masks and doing social distancing.”

“There is evidence to suggest that some of the mutations in the P.1 variant may affect its transmissibility and antigenic profile, which may affect the ability of antibodies generated through a previous natural infection or through vaccination to recognize and neutralize the virus,” the CDC wrote.

There are currently multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating globally, including another strain that has been reported in the U.S.: the B.1.1.7 variant, which, according to the CDC, emerged in the UK and could potentially be more deadly, though more evidence is needed to support that, the CDC said.

“In January 2021, scientists from UK reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants,” the agency wrote on its website. “More studies are needed to confirm this finding. This variant was reported in the US at the end of December 2020.”

Since the B.1.1.7 variant was first reported in the U.S., more than 1,500 cases have been reported nationwide. Florida has reported more infections than any other state, with 433 on the CDC’s map as of Thursday. California has the second highest number of B.1.1.7 variant infections with 195. According to the map, 42 states have reported instances of the B.1.1.7 variant.

“We need to be doing everything right to combat any variants that are trying to get a foot hold.  That are more contagious or maybe more deadly,” Husty said. “This virus is telling us that it’s not done with us yet and if we don’t pay attention to that, it’s going to take off.”

To find out what other states have reported cases of the variant and what researchers are saying about the variant, click or tap here.

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