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A new COVID-19 variant from Brazil has arrived in the United States

The new COVID-19 variant from Brazil was recently confirmed in Minnesota

People who received a vaccination, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minn., wait the 15 minutes before leaving.
People who received a vaccination, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minn., wait the 15 minutes before leaving.
Associated Press

A new COVID-19 variant that originated in Brazil has reached the United States. Specifically, the mutation was discovered in Minnesota, raising immediate questions about how far the new variant has spread in the country.

What happened

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday that the new COVID-19 strain — which is believed to more transmissible — has made its way stateside.

  • The Minnesota case is the only documented case of the new variant in the United States so far.

Health officials discovered the variant after a man from the Twin Cities area became sick in the beginning of January, according to NPR. He was tested for COVID-19. The man later revealed he traveled to Brazil before the symptoms occurred.

  • “These cases illustrate why it is so important to limit travel during a pandemic as much as possible,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield told NPR. “If you must travel, it is important to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, follow public health guidance on getting tested prior to travel, use careful protective measures during travel, and quarantine and get tested after travel.”

What you should know

According to NPR, the P.1 variant has been moving through Manaus, Brazil, since December 2020. And so far, researchers have made some discoveries about the new variant that could be troublesome.

  • “Scientists have been concerned about this variant because it contains a cluster of worrying mutations,” NPR reports. “Some of the mutations increase the virus’s transmissibility, making it spread more quickly. Others help the virus evade the body’s immune system, which could make it easier for individuals to contract COVID-19 a second time and hinder the efficacy of vaccines.”

What does Dr. Fauci think?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, an adviser to President Joe Biden on the pandemic, told The New York Times that the discovery wasn’t surprising — it was bound to happen.

  • “With the world travel that you have, and the degree of transmissibility efficiency, it’s not surprising,” he said.

Fauci said that the new variant in Brazil — as well as one discovered in South Africa — may elude vaccines, which is troubling for the world right now, according to The New York Times. He isn’t too worried about the UK variant, since there’s been research to show the vaccines can protect against it. But the Brazil vaccine does concern him.

  • “The amount of concern that I have between the U.K. variant, and the South African/Brazilian is much, much different,” Dr. Fauci said, according to The New York Times.