Nurses talk on January 14, 2021 in front of the 28 de Agosto Hospital in Manaus, Amazon State, Brazil, amid the new coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.
MICHAEL DANTAS | AFP | Getty images
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that a more contagious Covid-19 variant, originally identified in Brazilian travelers, has now reached New York.
The strain was detected 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 genomic sequencing every day and has sequenced more than 8,200 samples statewide.
According to a press release, the patient with the Brazilian variant is a Brooklyn resident in their 90s with no travel history.
“The discovery of the Brazilian variety here in New York underscores the importance of taking all appropriate steps to continue to protect your health,” said Cuomo. The governor urged New Yorkers to continue wearing masks, avoid crowds, and get a vaccine if they qualify.
The Brazilian strain, called 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 US in late January. The CDC has since reported 48 cases nationwide. The strain has a number of additional mutations that can affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.
There is some evidence that the variant is more contagious and has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. Researchers at the University of Oxford recently released non-peer-reviewed data suggesting it may be less resistant to vaccines. However, additional research is needed.
Cuomo’s announcement comes as the daily number of cases increases in New York and 20 other states. Mortality and hospital admissions are declining in New York as vaccine distribution accelerates.