Michigan confirms first case of Brazil Covid variant

Michigan has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil earlier this year, which is said to be more transmissible and could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Models of a coronavirus (edited with Photoshop) (Photo by Peter Endig/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The P.1 variant case was reported in a resident of Bay County, which is north of Saginaw, on March 31. 

The discovery has left Michigan's health director "concerned" as Michigan finds itself with the fastest rate of increase of new cases in the country.

"It is now even more important that Michiganders continue to do what works to slow the spread of the virus by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn," said Elizabeth Hertel.

The Bay County Health Department's public health officer said the Brazil variant's discovery is the second new variant of COVID-19 identified in the county since last week.

"...the rise of these new variants definitely impact the progress we have made this year with vaccinations."

Michigan is already tracking almost 1,500 cases of the more infectious B.1.1.7 variant, which made landfall in the U.S. from the United Kingdom earlier this year. 

The P.1 variant has been identified in 172 cases across 22 states. Michigan is also tracking the status of a variant that first came from South Africa, called the B.1.135. So far, there are seven cases that have been confirmed so far.

Health officials have partly attributed the state's spike in new cases to more variants that are known to spread easier than the original coronavirus.