Researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Brazil’s leading public health research institution, identified at least six different strains of the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus in circulation in Brazil between February and April. The research analyzed 95 complete genomes of the coronavirus in patients across nine Brazilian states and distinguished six active strains. The Fiocruz study awaits peer review before it may be approved by scientific journals.
In another study published on June 13, researchers found 102 original strains of the coronavirus — strains that are believed to have not mutated in the country yet — among 427 complete genomes, which would suggest that more than 100 subtypes of the virus entered the country at the start of the pandemic. The study was a joint effort between the University of São Paulo, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Oxford University, Imperial College of London, and the University of Campinas.
A wide array of different subtypes of the coronavirus would not necessarily mean that immunity by infection or via a vaccine is not possible, as the different strains maintain the virus’ main features. Yet, it does show that the coronavirus, much like all viruses, is able to mutate frequently, which over time will require the re-administration of new vaccines to maintain herd immunity levels — as is the case with the annual flu vaccine.Support this coverage →