What is the Brazil Covid variant and where has it been found in the UK?

1 March 2021, 16:38

The Brazil Covid variant has been discovered in England and Scotland
The Brazil Covid variant has been discovered in England and Scotland. Picture: PA

By Zoe Adams

Another new coronavirus variant has been detected in the UK but are there different symptoms of the Brazil strain? And does the vaccine still work against it?

A Brazil Covid variant has been discovered in both England and Scotland but what exactly is it? And what are the symptoms of the Brazil variant?

The strain has been labelled a “variant of concern” and currently Public Health England are on the search to find a missing positive case of the virus.

The coronavirus variant is thought to spread more rapidly and could respond less well to existing vaccines, although more research is underway.

Related article: How many coronavirus strains are there?

So what do we know about the Brazil Covid variant so far? Where has it been found in the UK? And do current coronavirus vaccines work against the Brazil variant? Here’s the latest information:

Brazil variant: Flights have been banned to prevent further cases
Brazil variant: Flights have been banned to prevent further cases. Picture: PA

What is the Brazil Covid variant? Are there any new symptoms?

The UK has currently banned all flights from Brazil with it officially being placed on the red country list since the quarantine system began.

It is believed to have originated in Manaus in Brazil last year and Public Health England has said the variant - known as P1 - is similar the South African strain.

At the moment, more research into the variant needs to be carried out, but there has been no identification of new symptoms just yet.

The concern around the Brazil strain is that it could be more transmissible and it is also not known whether its mutations mean it causes a more severe infection.

Covid vaccines could be less effective against the new strain but more research is needed
Covid vaccines could be less effective against the new strain but more research is needed. Picture: PA

Where has the Brazil Covid variant been found in the UK?

Three cases of the new variant have been discovered in the UK with two of the cases being found in South Gloucestershire from the same household.

The third case is yet to be identified after the positive case failed to fill out ID forms correctly.

Surge testing will now take place in South Gloucestershire with residents in five postcodes being invited to come forward for Covid tests.

Scotland has also detected three variant cases in the Grampian region in the north of the country after three people flew from Brazil to Aberdeen via Paris and London earlier.

Will the current coronavirus vaccines work against the Brazil variant?

At present, there is some evidence to suggest the coronavirus vaccines could be less effective against the Brazil strain because of the virus’ protein spike.

However, there is little research so far and Boris Johnson has said: “We don't have any reason at the present time to think that our vaccines are ineffective against these new variants of all types.”