There is already a P.2 variant, and preliminary research authored by scientists including those at Brazil’s Department of Virology suggests the virus is continuing to alter itself in Brazil, deleting sites on the spike protein which antibodies bind to in a development that would prevent vaccines from working.
The report has not yet been peer-reviewed – but highlighted the uncertainty of the current situation.
Neighbouring Chile has closed its borders to all foreigners on Thursday, while tightening a severe lockdown, as it surpassed one million cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.
Jose Miguel Bernucci, secretary of Chile’s National Medical Association, said: “What is happening in Brazil is a global menace.
Mr Bolsonaro is consequently under increasing pressure domestically, with the heads of the army, navy and air force all having quit in recent days.
In a poll carried out last month, 54 percent of respondents described his management of the Covid crisis as “bad” or “very bad”, up from 48 percent in January.
His political opponents have demanded his impeachment over his handling of the crisis.