Brazilian Covid-19 variant not detected in Sheffield - but health chief raises ‘reinfection’ concerns

Director of Public Health in Sheffield, Greg Fell said the new highly infectious Brazil strain of Covid that was identified recently in the UK should not be a reason to panic.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 2:52 pm

He said the Manaus variant of coronavirus, discovered in both England and Scotland on February 28, is not detected in Sheffield that they know of.

But, concerns were raised on how the new variant could contract the people who have been previously infected with the original strain of the virus.

"There are people who have previously been infected with the original strain of the virus and they are becoming poorly again.

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Doctor Kate Martin (L) administers an injection of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the vaccination centre set up at St Columba's church in Sheffield (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

"The antibody that was developed from the immune response the first time around is not giving protection against another strain of the virus, so this is deeply concerning,” he said.

He also expressed his worries on the implications of the effectiveness of the vaccines against the new Covid variant.

"Clearly, people are being reinfected because their prior antibody is not giving them protection so that's the cause of concern.

"I think the way in which we can control this spread is by continuing with the basics such as wash your hands, keep your distance and wear your facemasks.

"If you have symptoms, get a test and isolate."

Although it is not yet known if the mutation causes more severe Covid-19, evidence suggests it may be more transmissible.

Three cases of the P1 variant have been recorded in England and three in Scotland, but one of the cases in England has not yet been identified, Public Health England (PHE) said.

Two of the cases in England were found to come from a household in South Gloucestershire, where one person returned from Brazil in mid-February before hotel quarantine measures were introduced.

However, the third case is unlinked and the individual currently remains unknown as health officials are trying to track the patient down.

Scientists were concerned because this raised the possibility it is able more easily re-infect patients due to the mutations it carries but the evidence for this is currently limited.

They are also conducting analysis to establish if it has a higher mortality rate or if it affects the vaccines or treatments.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.