Minnesota case marks first detection of Brazil variant in US
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Officials say a new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus has made its first known appearance in the United States in a person who recently traveled from Brazil to Minnesota.
State health officials announced Monday that the Brazil P.1 variant was found in a specimen from a Minnesota resident who had recently been to Brazil. The patient lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and became ill during the first week of January. Epidemiologists were re-interviewing the person to obtain more details about the person’s illness, travel and contacts.
Viruses are constantly mutating, and new versions – called variants – often emerge. Health officials are also worried about variants that were first reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Researchers believe they may spread more easily than the virus that’s been sickening millions in the United States and that has caused nearly 420,000 deaths.
The Brazilian variant was first identified in four travelers who were tested at an airport outside Tokyo, Japan. It contains a set of mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some researchers have raised a concern that the Brazilian variant may be able to re-infect people who already were sickened by COVID-19.