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COVID-19 testing in Minnesota, where officials confirmed the first case of the P.1 variant in the U.S. Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty

The first case of a coronavirus variant that originated in Brazil has reached the U.S. and was found in Minnesota, state officials announced Monday.

Why it matters: The P.1 variant is one of three spreading rapidly around the world, raising questions about the efficacy of vaccines on different COVID variants and the possibilities of new outbreaks.

Details: The infected person, a Twin Cities resident with "recent travel history to Brazil," got tested on Jan. 9 after feeling sick the week prior, officials said.

  • The state's variant surveillance program helped identify the variant. Each week, the program collects 50 random samples from testing partners to conduct whole genome sequencing and get a better sense of specific forms of the coronavirus in Minnesota.

The big picture: The P.1 variant was first detected in northern Brazil in mid-December. It went on to account for 42% of confirmed cases in Manaus, Brazil, in December, Reuters reports.

  • Immunologist Ester Sabino told Reuters it's likely the new variant is more transmissible than the original strain, though there are no conclusive findings.
  • Biden reinstated coronavirus-related travel restrictions on Brazil Monday.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

  1. Health: CDC expects new COVID surge starting this month — U.S. fertility dips to its lowest rate since the 1970s.
  2. Politics: Federal judge overturns CDC's eviction moratorium — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants — U.S. will support waiving vaccine patentsPfizer to offer smaller shipments.
  4. Economy: U.S. may have added more than 2 million jobs in April — A surge in youth unemployment.
  5. World: U.S. could fill "vaccine diplomacy" void as other powers struggle — The countries facing massive COVID surges.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Miriam Kramer, author of Space
13 mins ago - Science

The suborbital space race heats up

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are pushing to launch their first paying customers to the edge of space.

Why it matters: If the two companies succeed, it will open up a new market in the space industry, one focused on consumer-driven demand for expensive trips to suborbital space.