Story at a glance

  • Two South Florida residents have been infected with a Brazilian variant of COVID-19.
  • The variants are considered more contagious than the original strain.
  • "What that means remains to be seen,” Marco Salemi of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute told reporters.

Last week, the Florida Department of Health reported a confirmed occurrence of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in the state, with two separate cases identified in South Florida.

The two cases involving the P.1.1 variant affected a 51-year-old woman in Duval County and a 74-year-old man in Broward County, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

Scientists in the state are reportedly watching to see if it spreads more quickly than both the original COVID-19 strain and original P.1 Brazilian variant.

“We have just two cases in Florida that have the extra mutation, and what that means remains to be seen,” Marco Salemi of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute told reporters. “If in a month from now we go from two cases to 500, that will be concerning.”

Salemi further noted that not much is known about how the new mutations will affect variants.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the Brazilian variant, along with the U.K. and South African variants, as “variants of concern.” Florida, in particular, has reported more than 11,800 cases of COVID-19 variants. 

Despite the newly reported Brazilian virus strains, the U.K. strain, B.1.1.7, is the most common one present in Florida.

Infections involving COVID-19 variants have led to 67 deaths and the hospitalization of 243 patients. 

Overall, new cases in the Sunshine State have dwindled over the past month, per state health data.


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Published on May 10, 2021