Marlúcia Seixas (Fiocruz Amazônia)
A researcher of the Leônidas & Maria Deane Institute (ILMD/Fiocruz Amazônia) confirms the identification of the origin of the new variant of the Sars-CoV-2 in Amazonas. The new variant was provisionally named B.1.1.28 (K417N / E484K / N501Y). Led by Felipe Naveca, the study suggests that the strains, identified in Japanese travelers that had been in the Amazonian region, evolved from a viral strain in Brazil that is spreading around Amazonas.
The results also point out that the mutation detected in the B.1.1.28 (K417N / E484K / N501Y) variant is a recent phenomenon, that probably occurred between December 2020 and January 2021. According to the note, the appearance of new Sars-CoV-2 variants that have more mutations on the Spike protein has brought concern all over the world, especially after the recent identification of two new strains, one in the United Kingdom and the other in South Africa. In Brazil, the Sars-Cov-2 epidemic occurred from two variants, named B.1.1.28 and B.1.1.33, which, most likely, appeared in the country in February 2020.
The researcher reports that a partnership between the Health Surveillance Foundation of Amazonas (FVS/AM) and the Central Laboratory of Public Health of Amazonas (Lacen-AM) is leading a genomic survey of the individuals infected with Sars-CoV-2 in Amazonas, in order to detect the viral spread of this variant in the State.
“Our preliminary analysis also confirms that the emerging Brazilian variants B.1.1.28 (E484k) e B.1.1.28 (K417N / E484k / N501Y) appeared independently during the diversification of the B.1.1.28 strain in Brazil. The simultaneous emergence of different B1.1 viral variants that carry the K417N / E484K / N501Y mutations on the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein in different countries around the world during the second half of 2020 suggests selective convergent changes in the evolution of Sars-CoV-2 due to similar evolutionary pressure during the infection of millions of people”, the note highlights. “If these mutations grant any selective advantage for the viral transmissibility, we should expect an increase in the rate of these viral variants both in Brazil and in the rest of the world during the next months.”
The studies carried out by Fiocruz Amazônia are supported by Fiocruz, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and the Research Support Foundation of the State of Amazonas (Fapepam).