Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the discovery of the first case of a COVID-19 P.1 variant, commonly referred to as the Brazilian variant, in a New York State resident. The case was identified by scientists at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City and verified by the Department of Health's Wadsworth Center Laboratories. The patient is a Brooklyn resident in their 90's with no travel history. DOH is working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to learn more information about the patient and potential contacts.
"The detection of the Brazilian variant here in New York further underscores the importance of taking all the appropriate steps to continue to protect your health," Governor Cuomo said. "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."
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "This is a race between the vaccine and the variants, and we continue to make tremendous progress of getting shots in the arms of eligible New Yorkers. 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."
The P.1 variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently reporting 48 cases nationwide. The P.1 variant has been designated a "variant of concern," which means there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease and the potential for reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines. However, while additional research is warranted, researchers at the University of Oxford recently released non-peer reviewed data that indicates the P.1 variant may be less resistant to the current vaccines than originally thought.
Wadsworth Center is currently sequencing COVID-19 virus specimens at a rate of approximately 90 per day and has sequenced more than 8,200 virus samples statewide. Most specimens have been selected at random from throughout the state to ensure geographic representation.