A new COVID-19 variant has been identified in Brazil. It is not known at this time whether this new variant would be more severe, or if currently available vaccines would be effective against it.
The Philippine Government currently has the following advisory for travellers bound for Brazil:
Restriction of entry of foreign visitors at land borders with Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Suriname and French Guiana on 19 March, following a similar restriction at the Venezuelan border. Restriction does not apply to foreigners with permanent residence, diplomats and international agency officials, as well as trucks transporting goods. (SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
The Government of Canada currently has the following advisory for travellers bound for Brazil: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Avoid all cruise ship travel outside Canada until further notice. (SOURCE: TRAVEL.GC.CA)
There are now three known COVID-19 variants:
- United Kingdom (UK) COVID-19 variant B117
- South Africa COVID-19 variant
- Brazil COVID-19 variant
The new Brazil COVID-19 variant has three mutations in the spike Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) that are similar to the mutations found in the South Africa COVID-19 variant.
The mutation in the RBD reduces antibody recognition, which helps COVID-19 bypass the body’s immune protection provided by previous infections or even vaccinations.
The new variant was first detected in Manaus in December 2020. The new Brazil COVID-19 variant has also been identified in Japan.
Health experts still think that existing COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the original COVID-19 virus, as long as enough people are vaccinated and transmission is kept at acceptable levels.
While health experts are saying that it is too early to tell if existing COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new COVID-19 variants, vaccine manufacturers are claiming that it would be relatively easy to tweak existing vaccines to be more effective against the new variants.
There have already been a number of COVID-19 mutations identified, with some mutations more significant than others.
The UK variant has been found to be more transmissible than the original COVID-19 variant.
Despite additional public health measures and travel restrictions, both Canada and the Philippines have already identified cases of the UK COVID-19 variant.
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