Health officials detected a case of the Brazilian coronavirus variant in a New York resident for the first time last week. In a press release issued Saturday, officials said the patient is a Brooklyn resident in their 90s with no travel history, and that work was underway to learn more about the patient and any potential contacts.
The strain was first identified by scientists at Mount Sinai hospital and then verified by the Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories.
“This is a race between the vaccine and the variants, and we continue to make tremendous progress of getting shots in the arms of eligible New Yorkers,” Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, said in a statement. “In the meantime, we remind New Yorkers to do everything they can to protect themselves and their neighbors as we continue to manage this pandemic.”
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The guidance echoes Dr. Anthony Fauci’s, who also said the best defense against emerging variants in the U.S. is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. The P.1 variant is less widespread in the U.S. than other mutations, such as the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant, which experts predict will become the dominant strain by the end of the month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 54 cases of the P.1. variant have been reported across 18 U.S. jurisdictions. Comparatively, there have been 6,390 instances of the B.1.1.7 variant across 51 jurisdictions.
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While the P.1 variant has been determined to be more transmissible than the wild type of coronavirus, last week, Oxford University said new findings showed it poses less of a threat to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech than previously thought.