Feinberg researchers find COVID-19 strain from Brazil in Chicago


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

The Feinberg School of Medicine. Researchers at the school recently discovered Illinois’ first case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant.

Megan Munce, Campus Editor

Illinois’ first known case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in travelers from Brazil was found last week by researchers at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Feinberg’s Pathogen Genomics research team identified the strain through sequencing analysis of a COVID-19 specimen, which confirmed it as the P.1 variant first identified in the United States in late January in Minnesota. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the individual — who did not report having traveled out of state — has been contacted and notified.

Some research has suggested the P.1 variant is more infectious and may be more resistant to vaccine antibodies, but the IDPH cautioned that more research is needed to confirm the information.

“This means that if someone was previously infected with COVID-19, the immune system may not as effectively fight off a second infection with this variant,” Feinberg Prof. Egon Ozer, a member of the research team, told Northwestern Now. “There is also some concern that the current vaccines might not be as effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 with this variant, though the degree to which they differ is unclear.”

The IDPH announced it would continue to monitor the presence of this strain and others along with the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Twitter: @meganmuncie

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