The first case of the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus has been found in New York, state health officials announced Saturday.
The infected patient is said to be in their 90s who has not traveled, according to a press release issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan made the discovery after sending their samples to the state Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories. The state health department is now coordinating with the city Department of Health to learn more about the patient and anyone they may have been in contact with.
There are several mutated strains of the virus that have already been detected in New York State, including one first found in the United Kingdom late last year. In February this year, the first case of the South African variant was found in New York City. Meantime, another mutated variant known as B.1.526, was first found in Washington Heights last month
Compared to the regular coronavirus strain, the Brazilian variant is deemed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “variant of concern” given how it’s been known to transmit more easily when compared to the regular coronavirus. So far, non-peer reviewed data compile by researchers from Oxford University suggest the COVID vaccines currently being administered may not be as effective in fighting against the Brazilian variant, known as the P.1 variant. So far, 48 across the world have died from this version of the virus.
In a statement, Cuomo said the presence of the variant in the state should reinforce why New Yorkers should take all precautions in combatting the strain.
“While it’s normal for a virus to mutate, the best way to protect yourself is to continue to wear a well-fitted mask, avoid large crowds, social distance, wash your hands and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” Cuomo said.
Though vaccine availability has raised the possibility of life soon returning to normal, state health department commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said “this is a race between vaccine and the variants.”
“We continue to make tremendous progress of getting shots in the arms of eligible New Yorkers,” Zucker said. “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.”