A Brazilian woman has become the first person in the world to be re-infected with a variant of the novel coronavirus known as E484K, state-run news agency Agencia Brasil reported on Friday.
The case, discovered by researchers from the D'Or Institute for Research and Education in northeast Bahia, involves a 45-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in May and tested positive again in October with the mutation. In both cases, the patient did not present serious symptoms.
Originally identified in South Africa, the E484K mutation has been previously detected in Brazil, but this is the first case of re-infection with it.
To confirm re-infection, it is necessary to undertake an analysis of the genome of the two viruses and compare the sequence of RNA, the "prime" molecule of DNA, to see if they are in fact two different strains.
Researchers at the D'Or Institute expressed concern over the discovery, since the mutation may entail alterations that can prevent the action of antibodies from treating patients.
"The discovery serves as an alert and reinforces the need to maintain pandemic control measures through social distancing, and the need to accelerate the vaccination process," warned institute researcher Bruno Solano.
In Brazil, at least five variants of COVID-19 have already been discovered.
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