On January 14, 2021, nurses chatting outside 28 de Agosto Hospital in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
MICHAEL DANTAS | AFP | Getty Images
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that a more contagious variant of Covid-19, originally identified in Brazilian travelers, has now reached New York.
The strain was discovered by scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and verified by the Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories. The center collects approximately 90 random samples for genome sequencing every day and has sequenced more than 8,200 samples nationwide.
The patient with the Brazil variant is a Brooklyn resident in their nineties with no travel history, according to a press release.
“The discovery of the Brazilian variant here in New York further underscores the importance of taking all appropriate measures to continue protecting your health,” said Cuomo. The governor urged New Yorkers to continue wearing masks, avoid the crowds and get vaccinated if necessary.
The Brazilian strain, designated P.1, was first identified in four travelers from Brazil who were tested during a screening in Tokyo, Japan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The P.1 variant was discovered in the USA at the end of January. The CDC has since reported 48 cases nationwide. The strain has a number of additional mutations that could affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.
There is evidence that the variant is more contagious and may make the vaccine less effective. Oxford University researchers recently released data that was not peer-reviewed, suggesting they may be less resistant to vaccines. However, additional research is needed.
Cuomo’s announcement comes when daily cases increase in New York and 20 other states. In New York, mortality and hospitalization rates are falling as vaccine distribution accelerates.