Manitoba health officials have confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 P.1 variant in the province.
The variant, first detected in Brazil, was discovered in the case of a person from the Interlake-Eastern health region, the province said in a release Thursday.
The strain, which has the potential to lower the effectiveness of some vaccines approved for use in Canada, was first detected in January in four Japanese travellers who had returned from Brazil’s Amazon region.
Canada’s first case was reported in a person who had travelled back to Toronto from Brazil in February. Cases have since been reported in Quebec and the variant has been blamed for outbreaks in British Columbia and Alberta.
According to a provincial online database Manitoba’s lone confirmed P.1 infection is connected to close contact with a known case, but officials haven’t said how they believe the strain made it into the province.
The P.1 variant is believed to be more transmissible and capable of evading prior immunogenicity — or reinfect people who have previously been infected with the original, or “wild,” type of COVID-19.
Emerging research suggests the P.1 variant is up to 2.5 times more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain. Another study suggests that out of every 100 COVID-19 survivors, anywhere from 25 to 60 could become reinfected if exposed to the P.1 variant.