42% of COVID-19 cases in Brazil’s Amazonian city Manaus caused by new variant

A Researcher, on Friday, warned about half of the new infections in Brazil’s Amazonian city of Manaus were caused by a new variant of the Coronavirus which has started to raise concerns about the risk of spread. A genomic data from the COVID-19 tests found that 42% of the confirmed cases had a similar mutation of the UK and the South Africa strain.

A professor from the University of Sao Paulo said it was quite likely the new Brazilian variant is more transmissible than the current dominant strain, although it has not been proven definitively, because it has mutations shown to have that effect in other variants.

The new variant, identified as P.1 was detected in 13 out of 31 positive PCR test samples collected in Manaus between December 15-23. It was absent in genome surveillance samples seen between March and November, indicating that how quickly it has appeared and reproduced. The researchers believe that the first case of the new variant was detected two weeks ago in Japan after four people travelled to the country from Manaus.

The Amazon’s largest city is currently suffering a brutal second wave of COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed its hospital system and exhausted oxygen supplies, leaving dozens of people to die in their homes and intensive care wards, doctors say. Manaus has resisted lockdowns and social distancing is not enforced, but researchers believe that the new variant also worsens the surge.

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