The more virulent coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil now accounts for at least 434 infections in the United States, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is the first time that the variant, known as P.1, has taken the No. 2 spot among three variants of concern being publicly tracked by the CDC.
The United States has a very low rate of genome sequencing that would allow it to check for more virus variants. But on Thursday, the CDC released new data on the variants, including those first identified in Brazil, Britain and South Africa.
The B.1.1.7 variant initially detected in Britain accounts for almost 20,000 cases in all 50 states — and has now become the most dominant variant. All three are believed to be more contagious than the original strain and have also been linked to more severe illness and death.
But the P.1 variant that has ravaged Brazil in recent months, leading to record numbers of cases and deaths, is now also on the rise in the United States. On March 25, the CDC reported just 79 confirmed cases involving the P.1 variant. Now, two weeks later, that number has reached more than 400.
The largest number of cases have been found in Massachusetts, where an outbreak first emerged in Cape Cod, a popular beach destination that is also home to a sizable community of Brazilian immigrants. More than 100 infections in Massachusetts were identified as the P.1. variant.
The variant has also been spotted in Illinois (93 cases), Florida (87 cases) and California (39 cases), among other states.