COVID Variant P.1 Is More Transmissible and More Lethal

A new report tracks the evolution of a variant lineage of SARS-CoV-2 associated with rapid transmission in Manaus, Brazil, that evolved in November 2020. The study’s authors suggest this variant, “P.1,” may be more transmissible and more likely to evade protective immunity elicited by previous infection with non-P.1 lineages.

Manaus, Brazil, reached unprecedented levels of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in mid-2020. And after a momentary respite, cases surged with fatal consequences.

Using molecular clock analysis, Nuno Faria et al. tracked the evolution of a new, more aggressive lineage called P.1, which possesses 17 mutations, including three (K417T, E484K and N501Y) in the spike protein. Following a period of accelerated evolution, this variant emerged in November 2020.

It is more transmissible and more lethal than its predecessor and more likely to evade immunity, the authors say. Enhanced global genomic surveillance of such variants of concern, which may exhibit increased transmissibility and/or immune evasion, is critical to accelerate pandemic responsiveness, the authors say.

Reference: “Genomics and epidemiology of the P.1 SARS-CoV-2 lineage in Manaus, Brazil” by Nuno R. Faria, Thomas A. Mellan, Charles Whittaker, Ingra M. Claro, Darlan da S. Candido, Swapnil Mishra, Myuki A. E. Crispim, Flavia C. S. Sales, Iwona Hawryluk, John T. McCrone, Ruben J. G. Hulswit, Lucas A. M. Franco, Mariana S. Ramundo, Jaqueline G. de Jesus, Pamela S. Andrade, Thais M. Coletti, Giulia M. Ferreira, Camila A. M. Silva, Erika R. Manuli, Rafael H. M. Pereira, Pedro S. Peixoto, Moritz U. G. Kraemer, Nelson Gaburo Jr, Cecilia da C. Camilo, Henrique Hoeltgebaum, William M. Souza, Esmenia C. Rocha, Leandro M. de Souza, Mariana C. de Pinho, Leonardo J. T Araujo, Frederico S. V. Malta, Aline B. de Lima, Joice do P. Silva, Danielle A. G. Zauli, Alessandro C. de S. Ferreira, Ricardo P Schnekenberg, Daniel J. Laydon, Patrick G. T. Walker, Hannah M. Schlüter, Ana L. P. dos Santos, Maria S. Vidal, Valentina S. Del Caro, Rosinaldo M. F. Filho, Helem M. dos Santos, Renato S. Aguiar, José L. Proença-Modena, Bruce Nelson, James A. Hay, Mélodie Monod, Xenia Miscouridou, Helen Coupland, Raphael Sonabend, Michaela Vollmer, Axel Gandy, Carlos A. Prete Jr., Vitor H. Nascimento, Marc A. Suchard, Thomas A. Bowden, Sergei L. K. Pond, Chieh-Hsi Wu, Oliver Ratmann, Neil M. Ferguson, Christopher Dye, Nick J. Loman, Philippe Lemey, Andrew Rambaut, Nelson A. Fraiji, Maria do P. S. S. Carvalho, Oliver G. Pybus, Seth Flaxman, Samir Bhatt and Ester C. Sabino, 14 April 2021, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abh2644

Mike O'Neill

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