Brazil coronavirus variant can reinfect survivors
A coronavirus variant circulating in Brazil is likely able to reinfect people who survived infections with earlier versions of the coronavirus, new data suggest.
The variant that emerged in Brazil, called P.1, carries a mutation that is already known to make a variant prevalent in South Africa harder to treat with antibodies and harder to prevent with available vaccines.
New data suggest that in many recovered patients, immunity to earlier versions of the virus will not afford immunity to P.1. Researchers tested the neutralizing ability of antibodies in plasma samples taken from survivors of COVID-19 caused by earlier versions of the virus.
The plasma “had 6-fold less neutralizing capacity” against the P.1 variant than against earlier virus versions, the researchers reported on Monday ahead of peer-review on a preprint server belonging to The Lancet journal.
“Lower neutralization capacity of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and partial immunity against new variants suggests that reinfection could occur in convalescent or even vaccinated individuals,” the authors said.
In a separate paper posted on Wednesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, some of the same researchers estimated that among every 100 survivors of COVID-19 due to earlier virus versions, 25-to-60 could become reinfected if exposed to the P.1 variant because their antibodies could not protect them.
As of Thursday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control of Prevention, there have been 13 cases of COVID-19 due to P.1 in the United States.