The P1 variant, which was first identified in the city of Manaus, Brazil, has quickly become the dominant strain of the virus and is more infectious than the normal variety. Hospitals in Brazil’s largest regions are already close to collapse, according to experts in the region, and the virus shows no signs of slowing.
Dr Roberto Kraenkel, a biological mathematician with the Covid-19 Brazil Observator, told the Washington Post: “This information is an atomic bomb.
“I’m surprised by the levels [of variants] found – the media isn’t getting what this means.”
“All of the variants of concern are more transmissible…and this means an accelerated phase of the epidemic. A disaster.”
Vaccines do have an effect on the Brazil variant.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the Pfizer vaccine is able to neutralise the P1 variant.
The vaccine rollout in Brazil has had slow progress with only four percent of the population receiving the first dose.
Experts have said that the pandemic will continue as long as variants go unchecked.
Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana told AFP: “Brazil is a threat to humanity.”
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One additional case of the P1 variant was potentially identified in Scotland on March 9 but Nicola Sturgeon said there was “no sign of any onward community transmission.”