Brazilian scientists Wednesday claimed to have found a new variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus in Rio de Janeiro, which they named P5 but is yet to be recognized worldwide.
Two other strains have already been detected in Brazil. One of them is considered of concern and the other of interest.
The P5 is another of the many variants that have appeared around the world since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists have explained that the appearance of new variants is part of the natural evolution of viruses. The longer they circulate and the more people are infected, the more likely there are new variants of coronavirus to be discovered. Some may have no health impact. But others are classified as of concern or of interest according to their ability to be transmitted and affect more people, and because of the possibility of producing more cases of severe symptoms.
In Brazil, two other variants had already been detected since the start of the pandemic. One of them was found in October last year as the Rio de Janeiro variant, with the technical name P.2. Today, according to the WHO, it is called Zeta and it is a variant of interest, a category that means that it is being studied for the possibility of producing greater transmissibility. In February, cases of patients with this Rio variant were detected in Argentina.
Meanwhile, the variant now known as Gamma (P1) was detected in Manaus and it was largely linked to the steep increase in covid-19 19 cases during the summer in much of Brazil. This variant is today considered of concern.
According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, in the United States, mRNA vaccines were effective against the Gamma variant.
The new and third Brazilian strain has not yet been validated by the international scientific community. It was identified by the Corona-Omica-RJ Network, which performs genomic monitoring. Professionals from the Fiocruz Institute, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Getulio Vargas Foundation, among other academic centres, participate in the studies.
The government of Rio de Janeiro announced the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in the interior of that state next to the border with São Paulo, both located in the southeastern region of Brazil, the most populated in the country. ”So far it cannot be said that (the new variant) is more lethal or transmissible” than the other strains, the State Health Secretariat said in a statement. Until now, the variant has been located through cases registered in the municipality of Porto Real, in the south of the state.
Rio de Janeiro has been one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic with 54,500 deaths. Until now, in Rio de Janeiro the predominant variant continues to be P1, which after emerging in the Amazon region, moved on throughout Brazil and into other countries. That variant has been declared of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is now called Gamma with the new Greek letter name identification system.