São Paulo‘s Government confirmed three cases of COVID-19 caused by the new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, first identified in Amazonas and pointed as one of the causes of the health collapse in Manaus. The confirmation was made through genetic sequencing of the virus at the Adolfo Lutz Institute.
According to the newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) and Fiocruz Amazonas found that the new variant appeared in Manaus in December and spread quickly through the capital of Amazonas. The variant has mutations in the spike protein, responsible for allowing contamination of human cells. In other words, studies suggest that this variant of the coronavirus is more transmissible.
Researchers consulted by O Estado de S.Paulo said that until November 2020 the new strain had no yet been identified in Manaus, but soon in December, 52.2% of the viruses collected were of the new variant; in January, the new strain was already in 85.4% of cases.
This rapid advance shows Brazil’s difficulty in properly monitoring the pandemic. This failure, scientists point out, is due to the difficulty in obtaining funding and inputs for research. Many states depend on partnerships with research centers, such as the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), to analyze virus samples.
Despite the challenges of scientific research in Brazil, even more evident now by the pandemic of COVID-19, the Federal Government reduced the tax benefits for scientific research by 68.9%, reported Folha de S.Paulo. As a result, products imported from other countries will become more expensive.
The measure affects the research of institutions that are on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, such as Instituto Butantan and Fiocruz.