COVID-19 variant first discovered in Brazil detected in King County

KING COUNTY, Wash. — A variant of COVID-19 that was first identified in Brazil has made its way to King County, health officials announced on Thursday.

This variant, which health officials identified as the P.1 variant, was first detected in the United States in late January and has been found in 10 states.

“If we let down our guard, these variant strains will make us pay,” said Jeff Duchin, a health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The upside is that we can take steps to limit the damage. The same precautions that have helped us drive down case counts in the past can also protect us from the variants, as long as we are diligent.”

Public Health – Seattle & King County said the P.1 variant contains a number of mutations, including ones that seem to make it less vulnerable to our bodies’ immune response.

“In parts of Brazil it has raised concerns that previously infected people could be more easily reinfected by the P.1 variant. There is reason to think vaccines may be less effective against this strain, but there have also been more encouraging signs in recent research on the vaccines’ efficacy,” officials said.

This is the third variant of COVID-19 that has turned up in the county.

The other variants found in the U.S. and locally include the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom and the B.1.351 variant initially detected in South Africa.