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Possible Brazilian case of COVID-19 variant detected in Shelby County

A local infectious disease expert shares whether the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus is more contagious than the original strain.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Health officials announced Tuesday that they have identified a presumptive case of the Brazilian strain of the COVID-19 virus in Shelby County.   

A local doctor said we don’t know a great deal about the Brazilian strain, but warns we need to keep getting vaccinated to stay safe.  

“It is the P.2 Brazilian strain, and we don’t think that is it more transmissible than the British, the U.K. strain or even the wild type,” said Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease specialist who is part of the COVID-19 Task Force. 

According to the infectious disease expert, the P.1 Brazilian strain is highly transmissible.    

Jain said the presumptive positive case detected in a person in Shelby County will be sent to the CDC to be confirmed.   

“We are not alarmed that these strains are being detected because we’re here in Shelby County are conducting a pretty robust effort of surveillance,” said Shelby County Health Department Chief of Epidemiology David Sweat.  

Jain said doctors don’t believe the Brazilian strain causes more disease or mortality. However, it does cause some concern.   

“Those who have had a previous infection with COVID can get reinfected with this viral strain,” Jain said. “So re-infection can occur and the vaccines which we are giving at present they may not be as effective against this strain as well.”  

Dr. Jain explained there’s no cause for alarm when it comes to the Brazilian strain possibly reported in Shelby County but stressed we do need to remain vigilant.  

“We need to continue getting the vaccine to protect against the U.K. Strain, which is predominately going to be the major strain that we will be seeing over the next 2-3 months.”  

A possible case of the U.K. strain was found in Shelby County last week. It’s still being confirmed by the CDC. 

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