A possible new variant of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has been detected in several regions of Brazil, the Ministry of Science and Technology's National Laboratory for Scientific Computing (LNCC) said.
Brazilian scientists discovered the new variant as the country's healthcare system nears collapse due to a rise in cases generated by the P.1 strain that emerged in northern Brazil's state of Amazonas in November 2020, the Xinhua news agency reported.
A study carried out in 39 municipalities of five Brazilian states "led to the identification of a possible new variant of SARS-CoV-2 originating from variant B.1.1.33 that had circulated in Brazil," the laboratory said in a statement.
This latest variant contains a mutation that could "complicate the planning of new strategies to control Covid-19," the laboratory warned.
The results of the study were reported in the international coronavirus genome database GISAID.
"The growing need for effective genomic surveillance to be able to identify potential viral mutations early is clear, thus helping to improve current vaccines against Covid-19," the laboratory said.
Brazil has reported 11,363,380 Covid-19 cases, with 275,105 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.