O The Washington Post published last Thursday (4) an article that should alarm the Brazilian health authorities. According to the newspaper, the Brazilian variant of new coronavirus represents a “great threat to the world”. The publication listened to a series of experts who indicate that a confluence of factors that could transform Brazil into the “largest open laboratory in the world for its mutation”.

Now, scientists fear that the P.1 variant is infecting again people who have already contracted the Covid-19 virus, indicating that it has the strength to make those who have first wave antibodies sick. The conclusions are still tentative, but the implications are quite serious, as it is possible that the virus could challenge vaccines and natural immune systems.

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variant map p.1
Variant P.1 already circulates in an uncontrolled way in South America, and has confirmed cases in 18 countries. Image: Reproduction / WHO

Brazilian variant of coronavirus may increase viral load by 10 times

A study carried out by researchers from Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) analyzed the variant P.1, originally detected in Amazonas, and concluded that it has the power to replicate more within the body, causing a greater viral load in patients.

Among the patients analyzed in the study, not yet peer-reviewed, but available at this link, there was a consistent increase in viral load among almost all groups followed. The only one where there was no difference was that of men over 59 years of age, which can be explained by a weaker immune response in this population.

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Preventive measures

The Brazilian variant is already spreading across the rest of Brazil. To reduce the risk of outbreaks and reinfections, Nuno Faria, a virologist at Imperial College London, suggests twice as many precautions to decrease the speed of dissemination. The use of masks and the practice of social detachment are actions that can protect against the strain.

In parallel, vaccination will help control transmission and protect those infected from serious infections. "It is necessary to increase vaccination efforts as soon as possible", warns Faria. "You have to be one step ahead of the virus."

Street: The Washington Post