Health authorities in Brazil announced on March 31 that they have detected a new COVID-19 variant in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, similar to the one first identified in South Africa.
“It is a variant similar to that of South Africa, although there is no history of travel or contact with travelers from South Africa,” Buntatan Institute President Dimas Covas said at a press conference.
According to Covas, the variant may have evolved from the P1 variant that was first identified in the country last January and was more contagious than the original virus.
The South African variant was considered to be more contagious than the original virus.
“There is a possibility that it is an evolution of our P1 towards this mutation in South Africa,” Covas said.
According to Covas, determining the “real incidence” of the variant, or if it was just a single case, was necessary.
Covas said the patient was hospitalized in the city of Sorocaba.
Brazil has been facing a new surge of cases due to the P1 variant, slow vaccination campaign, and the lack of physical distancing.
Last March 30, Brazil recorded 3,780 cases in one day.
Brazil has also recorded the most deaths in one month since last July — a total of 57,606 deaths, making March its worst month of the pandemic.
“We’re at the worst moment of the pandemic, and indications are that April will be very bad too,” Espirito Santo Federal University Epidemiologist Ethel Maciel told AFP News.
Brazil comes second after the United States with the most number of cases and deaths worldwide — 12,748,747 cases and 321,515 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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