Covid-19: The Brazilian variant of the new coronavirus, called P.1, which appeared in Manaus (Amazonas), may have a viral load 10 times greater than the other strains that cause covid-19 known so far, as pointed out by a study carried out by specialists in virology, recently published.
Coordinated by Fiocruz Amazônia scientist Felipe Naveca, the genomic research took place between March 2020 and January 2021, involving patients from 25 cities in the Amazon. During this period, they first identified two variants in the region, B.1.195 and B.1.128, of which the second became dominant in September last year.
After becoming the main strain of Sars-CoV-2 in the state and experiencing different scenarios in which the mutations generated advantages for the virus, B.1.128 created the perfect opportunity for the emergence of P.1 in December, as stated by Naveca in an interview with Radio France International (RFI).
Bringing variations in the Spike protein, responsible for binding the coronavirus to the body’s cells, changes that may be related to greater transmissibility and the possibility of reducing the immune response of antibodies, the P.1 variant spread quickly, becoming dominant lineage in Amazonas and also in other states, according to the researcher.
Increase in cases among young people
The highest viral load in P.1, identified by the study of genomic epidemiology, facilitates the transmission of the coronavirus, according to Naveca. This characteristic, associated with the meetings during the holidays and the holidays in January, may have been the cause of the explosion of infections and deaths in Amazonas in the beginning of 2021.
Its predominance would also justify the increase in cases of covid-19 among the youngest during the second wave of the pandemic, when people aged 18 to 59 years old became the most affected by the disease, unlike the first months of the crisis. health care, when the elderly represented the majority of hospitalizations.
However, the study leader states that there are other factors acting together with P.1 to influence the infection in this age group, such as the greater exposure of young people to the virus – contact can happen at work and at clandestine parties, among other occasions.
Concerns about P.1
The characteristics of the Brazilian variant, including the greater transmission capacity and even a supposed relationship with the increase in the severity of cases, not addressed in this study, have caused concern in other countries. France, for example, even suspended flights from Brazil.
Entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have also shown caution in relation to it, classifying P.1 as one of the three most worrying variants of the moment – the others are B.1.351 and B.1.157.