Outside of South America, B.C. is the ‘hot spot’ for aggressive P.1 COVID-19 variant


In the race between COVID-19 vaccinations and variants, the variants are winning.

The aggressive P.1 variant from Brazil is now one of health experts’ biggest concerns.

“The Brazil P.1 variant is quite worrisome,” said Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist. “It’s two- to two-and-a-half times more transmissible than the old variants.”

Brazil’s averaged 66,000 cases a day in the last week. But outside of South America, B.C. is now the hot spot.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 1,889 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday, 23 deaths since April 1

“British Columbia’s cluster is the biggest hot spot outside of South America and I think that is a very, very worrisome sign,” Feigl-Ding said.

B.C. health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about this fast-spreading and potentially vaccine-resistant variant.

“There is significant P.1 variant in B.C. and so there are new clusters developing,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

Some Vancouver Canucks players are confirmed to have it.

The team’s on ice after being decimated by COVID-19, with reports upwards of 20 players and coaches have tested positive.

“These are healthy players in their peak and prime of athleticism and there’s not only getting sick, they’re getting very sick some of them,” said Feigl-Ding.

“Some of them are on IV fluids. That’s really worrisome and for those that have downplayed this pandemic, are you healthier than a NHL hockey player?”

Health officials say B.C. is doing “intensive” contact tracing on variants but for now, there are no plans to tighten restrictions even further to stop the spread.

“These are strong restrictions now,” said Dix. “Remember, all of these numbers really reflect events that occurred prior to the new restrictions coming into place.”

That means COVID numbers could get even worse this week and likely next week as well, due to spring break travel.

“It’s scary, very scary,” a Victoria woman told CHEK News. “It’s dangerous out there, people should just watch what they’re doing.”

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