Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Health officials say they’ve discovered more Alaska cases of the P1 variant of the coronavirus that’s devastated Brazil — suggesting that the mutant strain, which is likely more contagious and capable of reinfecting people previously sick with COVID-19, is getting a growing foothold in the state.
According to Alaska Public Media, State health officials announced the four new cases, two from Anchorage and two from Eagle River, during a public information session Wednesday.
They’d previously detected just one case of the P1 variant. But they said last month that more were likely given that the person found to have the strain had not recently traveled outside the state and did not have a clear source of infection, making it a case of community spread.
Officials say they’re closely watching for P1 cases because of its contagiousness and its apparent ability to escape antibodies acquired from previous COVID-19 infection.
There’s also the possibility that it could evade vaccines, though the research into that risk is not conclusive.