A LEADING doctor has warned that the Manaus variant of coronavirus has reinfected people who have already had the virus.

Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director at Public Health England, said the P1 variant that emerged in Manaus in Brazil is similar to the variant from South Africa, with their mutations thought to increase transmissibility.

“Manaus in particular reported that a number of individuals were reinfected with this variant, and therefore that suggests that having had prior immunity from primary infection wasn’t enough to reduce infection and transmission,” she said. “And that may also impact on the vaccine.”

However, the strategic response director at Public Health England told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that although cases have been detected in the UK, the hope is that it will not become a dominant variant.

“I think the importance here is that, while we’re in national restrictions, while we have very transmissible variants that are circulating, then we hope that there are not any other variants that will be able to take over,” she said.

“However, as we start to release national restrictions with the schools going back on March 8, that is where the risk starts to increase, and that’s why we really are clamping down on a number of measures to prevent the spread of these variants.”

She said those identified with the variant so far have all followed the rules, have quarantined and got tested when symptoms emerged.


She added: “We haven’t detected it in any individual who hasn’t had a history of travel or had contact with travel yet, so that is good news. But we are prepared to search it out in the communities, if it is there.”

Torfaen MP, and shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds said the detection of the variant was "deeply concerning".

“It is now vital that we do everything we can to contain it,” the Labour MP said.

“But this is further proof that the delay in introducing a hotel quarantine was reckless and the continuing refusal to put in place a comprehensive system leaves us exposed to mutations coming from overseas.”