Up to 61 percent of people who previously had Covid-19 could be reinfected with the highly contagious Brazilian ‘P1’ variant, a new study has found. Scientists say it’s too early to know if it’s harder for vaccines to tackle.
Scientists studying people in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where the P1 variant first emerged, found that out of 100 people who had recovered from their Covid-19 illness, between 25 and 61 were susceptible to catching the P1 strain.
The study was carried out by researchers at the University of São Paulo in tandem with the UK’s Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, although it has not yet been peer reviewed. Brazil’s Amazon region had suffered very high infection rates last year, but was then hit by a second wave of the virus between December 2020 and January 2021, which researchers believe may have been caused by the P1 lineage.
They said P1 has a “unique constellation” of 17 mutations in the coronavirus spike protein, including K417T, E484K and N501Y, which are all associated with increased binding to human cells – meaning they are likely to be more contagious.