Washington, March 2: A new modelling study by researchers in Brazil and the United Kingdom suggested that the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, known as P1, may be up to 2.2 times more transmissible and could evade immunity from previous COVID-19 infection by up to 61 per cent.

The preprint, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, finds that P1 was associated with the surge in coronavirus cases seen in Manaus, Brazil, during a second wave toward the end of 2020. It is thought this explains the resurgence of the virus despite high levels of existing immunity in the community from the first wave, reported CNN.

The team sequenced viruses sampled from people infected with coronavirus between November 2020 and January 2021 in Manaus, where the new variant was first detected, and found the proportion of samples with this variant rose from 0 to 87 per cent within seven weeks. New Coronavirus Strain, Similar to South African, Brazilian Variant of COVID-19, Found in New York: Researchers.

While investigating how these changes affect the ability of the virus to cause infections, the models created from the data showed that the P1 variant was 1.4 to 2.2 times more transmissible than other variants as well as the original coronavirus strain and 25 per cent to 65 per cent more likely to evade existing protective immunity from previous non-P1 infections, making people susceptible to re-infection.

The sampling also found that the emergence and circulation of the P1 variant of concern was due to multiple introductions of the variant within the population, CNN further reported. Coronavirus Variants: Why Some COVID-19 Strains Are More Infectious Than Others.

However, Dr. Nuno Faria, reader in viral evolution at the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, cautioned that the results of the study in Manaus should not be generalised to other contexts of variants.

In the United States, 10 cases of the P1 variant have been identified in five states -- Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Oklahoma -- according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to CNN.

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