Is the P1 variant of the coronavirus a major threat to the world?
The P1 variant is wreaking havoc in Brazil, where an uncontrolled Covid pandemic is raging. P1, behind the scenes of the terrible hospital overload of Manaus with parents of patients advocate for oxygen cylinders, is now the dominant form of coronavirus in many cities in Brazil and partly responsible for the high death toll. Other Latin American countries have closed their borders and restricted travel to and from Brazil but P1 is now in at least 15 countries in the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
P1 is highly transmissible. Jesem Orellana, epidemiologist at Fiocruz, the famous Brazilian scientific research institution, said on March 10 that due to his epidemic, Brazil was “a threat to humanity”.
As of April 6, there were 356 cases of P1 in the United States, spread across 25 jurisdictions, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The first case arrived in Minnesota in early January. There are many more cases of the UK variant – 16275 – which, like P1, spreads easily, but is very susceptible to vaccines. There were 32 cases of P1 in the UK on March 31.
What do we know about the P1 variant?
It is one of two variants of the coronavirus that have been detected in Brazil, or in people who have traveled from Brazil, called P1 and P2. The P1 variant has more changes – three spike protein mutations instead of one – and is of most concern.
P1 was first detected in Japan, in people who had traveled from Manaus to Brazil. Investigations have confirmed the variant in Manaus, the Amazon city that suffered an intense first wave of coronavirus that peaked in April of last year. A survey of blood donors in October suggested that 76% of the population had antibodies, so were presumed at least temporarily immune. But in January there was a great resurgence among people who had previously recovered from Covid, suggesting that P1 is capable of infecting people who thought they had natural immunity.
P2 is widespread in Brazil but has fewer disturbing mutations.
The UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) has named P1 a ‘variant of concern’, as has the CDC in the US. Not only is it more transmissible – like the ‘Kent’ B117 variant – but may also be able to escape antigen. In other words, vaccines designed against the coronavirus may not work as well against it.
How is it different from other variations?
Nervtag says that P1 “contains 17 unique amino acid changes, three deletions, four synonymous mutations, and one 4nt insertion.” A variant is a virus with mutations, which sometimes have little effect. However, P1 has three that are of concern: K417T, E484K, and N501Y.
E484K is the most worrying. It is also found in the so-called South African variant, which exhibits almost identical changes in its spike protein. There are also a few instances where Kent’s variant B117, known for its rapid spread, has acquired the E484K mutation. This is the mutation believed to give the variants some ability to evade vaccines. This decreases their effectiveness, although it does not knock them out.
What are the chances that P1 will spread to Europe, the UK or the US?
It will depend on genomic sequencing of virus samples provided by people undergoing Covid testing – and on extensive contact tracing to find anyone else who may have detected P1.
The UK has become good at it. This is surge testing wherever there are cases of variants, be it P1 or B1351, originating in South Africa. The UK does more genomic sequencing of viral samples than any other country and is therefore in a good position to know what is going on. When six cases of P1 were picked up in February in the UK, a manhunt was launched to find one of them who had not left their contact details during their review. Forty people were involved for five days. Eventually the person came forward.
Other countries are stepping up their genomic sequencing as the threat of variants becomes clear. Even in highly vaccinated countries, P1 could pose problems. Controlling its spread will become increasingly difficult as people resume traveling abroad.
Brazilian variant of Covid: what do we know about P1? | Coronavirus
Source link Brazilian variant of Covid: what do we know about P1? | Coronavirus