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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 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
43 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.