New York has joined a growing list of more than a dozen states that have confirmed at least one case of a worrying coronavirus variant first found in Brazil.
The variant of concern, known as P.1, is highly contagious and in some cases has re-infected people who have already recovered from the coronavirus. About 48 cases of the variant have now been reported in at least 16 states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now in at least 25 other countries.
Scientists expect variants to soon become the dominant source of infection in the United States. The country has rushed to vaccinate as many people as possible before that happens, though some states have reduced restrictions on closure.
Florida has recorded 21 cases of the P.1 variant, the most of any state, according to the latest CDC data. At least 49 states and Puerto Rico have reported about 5,500 cases of the variant first identified in Britain, which could soon be the dominant form of the virus in the United States. Another 180 cases of a variant first found in South Africa were also reported.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Saturday that the state’s first P.1 case has been identified by scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in a Brooklyn resident in their 90s with no travel history.
“The detection of the Brazilian variant here in New York further emphasizes the importance of taking all necessary steps to continue to protect your health,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Scientists are concerned about the P.1 variant because it shares many mutations with the variant currently prevailing in South Africa, known as B.1.351. Vaccinations made by Moderna and Pfizer still protect against the variant, but it is slightly less effective. The vaccines are expected to behave in the same way as P.1.
The rate of vaccinations is increasing in the United States. About 79.4 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine since Saturday CDC said. In New York, at least 25 percent of the population received at least one dose.
The P.1 variant was first reported in Japan in December, in four people traveling from Brazil. It quickly became dominant in Manaus, the largest city in the country’s Amazon region, and spread to other South American cities. It reached the United States in January and first appeared in Minnesota.
Three studies offer a look at the increase in the variant in Brazil, which probably increased in the winter and fueled a record increase in coronavirus cases, partly due to the increased contagion. It also had the ability to infect people who had had immunity to the previous attacks of Covid-19.