Tuesday 6 April 2021

Canada: A look at the P.1 COVID-19 variant gaining a foothold in western Canada

Global News shows that as virus cases of COVID-19 variants grow in Canada, so too does concern from disease experts.

The rapid spread of the P.1 variant in British Columbia has added new urgency to the race between variants and vaccines. In just a matter of days, cases have surged from double to triple digits.

Alberta is also currently investigating 2 separate, unrelated COVID-19 outbreaks involving the P.1 variant, which was first discovered in Brazil. 

Heather Yourex-West has more.

Lineage P.1, also known as 20J/501Y.V3, Variant of Concern 202101/02 (VOC-202101/02) or colloquially known as the Brazil(ian) variant, is one of the variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been named lineage P.1 and has 17 amino acid changes, ten of which are in its spike protein, including these three designated to be of particular concern: N501Y, E484K and K417T. This variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Japan, on 6 January 2021 in four people who had arrived in Tokyo having visited Amazonas, Brazil four days earlier. It was subsequently declared to be in circulation in Brazil.

It has caused widespread infection in the city of Manaus, despite the fact that the city had already experienced widespread infection in May with a study indicating high seroprevalence of antibodies for SARS-CoV-2. P.1 has also been called 'B.', although strictly only three sublevels are permitted in the PANGO Lineage system of nomenclature, hence the designation 'P.1'.

Manaus is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. It is the 7th-largest city in Brazil, with an estimated 2020 population of 2,219,580

P.1 comprises the two distinct subvariants 28-AM-1 and 28-AM-2, which both carry the K417T, E484K, N501Y mutations, and both developed independently of each other within the same Brazilian Amazonas region.

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