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Coronavirus: The Brazilian variant is mutating, becoming more dangerous – study

A variant of Brazil’s coronavirus P1, behind the deadly tide of COVID-19 in the Latin American country that has raised international alarm, is mutating in ways that could make it better to avoid antibodies, according to scientists studying the virus.

A study conducted by the Fiocruz Institute of Public Health on variants circulating in Brazil found mutations in the spike area of ​​the virus, which is used to enter and infect cells.

The researchers said these changes could make the virus more resistant to vaccines that target the protein with spikes, with potentially serious consequences for the severity of the outbreak in the most populous nation in Latin America.

“We believe this is another escape mechanism that the virus creates to avoid an antibody response,”

; said Felipe Naveca, one of the study’s authors and part of Fiocruz in the Amazon city of Manaus, where the variant is thought to have originated. P1.

Forever said the changes look similar to the mutations seen in the even more aggressive South African version, against which studies show that some vaccines have significantly reduced effectiveness.

“This is particularly worrying because the virus continues to accelerate its evolution,” he added.

Studies show that variant P1 is 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus and more resistant to antibodies.

On Tuesday, France suspended all flights to and from Brazil in an attempt to prevent the option from spreading as Latin America’s largest economy became increasingly isolated.

The option, which quickly became dominant in Brazil, is thought to be a major factor behind a massive second wave that has led to the country’s death toll of more than 350,000 – the world’s second-highest after the United States.

The outbreak in Brazil is also affecting more and more young people, with hospital data showing that in March, more than half of all intensive care patients were over the age of 40.

For Esther Sabino, a scientist at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine who led the first genomic sequencing of the coronavirus in Brazil, mutations in the P1 variant are not surprising, given the rapid rate of transmission.

“If you have a high level of transmission, as is currently the case in Brazil, the risk of new mutations and variants increases,” she said.

So far, vaccines such as those developed by AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac have been shown to be effective against the Brazilian version, but Sabino said additional mutations could put it at risk.

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