More than seven out of 10 coronavirus cases in Minas Gerais are of the gamma variant, also known as P1, initially found in Manaus. A study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais, the State Department of Health (SES-MG) and the Ezequiel Dias Foundation (Funed) determined that this strain was present in 74.1% of the samples.
The research analyzed 1.2 thousand samples, being the largest and most comprehensive study to detect coronavirus variants in the state. “We already knew that the P1 variant was working in high amounts, but until then the bulk of the results were from BH,” says one of the researchers, genetics professor Renan Piedra.
The material was collected between March 1 and April 12, which helps explain the deteriorating situation of the epidemic in Minas. This is because the gamma variant is considered one of the most transmissible, along with alpha, identified in the UK. “It’s these variants that are of concern, given the higher rate of transmission, they are more contagious,” Pedra emphasizes.
The alpha variant was present in 10.5% of the samples. 13.1% of them were of the Zeta strain, also called P2 and identified in Rio de Janeiro. The study did not find the delta variable, first recorded in India, among the samples. Until then, only one patient in Minas had been diagnosed with this variant, in Juiz de Fora, Zona da Mata.
The survey also showed the distribution of breeds in regions. In the regional health units of Patos de Minas, in Alto Paranaiba, and Uberlandia, in Triangulo, all samples were of the gamma variable. On the other hand, in Teófilo Otoni, in the Mucuri Valley, and Pedra Azul, in the Jequitinhonha Valley, this strain corresponds to less than a third of the cases.
“This indicates that there is still room for P1 to grow. Since it is able to identify variables, we have more information to make decisions and prepare the health system,” warns the professor.
The group of researchers reported the results to the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health.