What is the Brazilian variant and why are experts worried?

What is the Brazilian variant and why are experts worried?


What is the Brazilian Covid-19 variant?
There are already thousands of variants circulating of the original coronavirus that started the pandemic. Viruses make copies of themselves to spread, and mutate as they do so, making tiny genetic changes along the way.

Less than a handful of the many, many variants are giving experts cause for concern. The latest is the Brazilian (also known as P1) variant

Why is it worrying experts?
Experts are worried not because of any strong evidence at this stage that the variants cause more severe illness, but because they may be more transmissible, or easier to catch, which could lead to more infections and deaths.

Along with the UK or Kent variant and the South African variant, the Brazilian variant has mutated in a way that may mean it spreads easier. It was blamed for a huge resurgence of Covid-19 in the Brazilian city of Manaus in December and January. There was also some evidence that people who were previously infected with Covid-19 in Brazil were reinfected with the new variant.

How widespread is it in Ireland?
Three cases have been identified in the Republic, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) announced on Friday. The three cases were all directly associated with recent travel from Brazil. Anyone flying into Ireland from Brazil is currently required to quarantine at home for 14 days. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said all three cases cases travelled to Ireland in recent weeks and “went into self-isolation as appropriate”. “The three cases are all part of the one cluster. Public health investigation and follow-up of these cases is ongoing,” she added. 

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