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.
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