So while this data isn’t really a decisive indication that P.1 poses a distinct threat to us, it’s all certainly consistent with that concern. And it would help explain why Manaus had two distinct waves of infection that seem to have hit a substantial fraction of the city’s population. Still, as the authors of the new paper point out, we don’t fully understand the consequences of mutations that alter proteins targeted by antibodies. Until we get a grip on that, we won’t really know how worried we need to be about P.1 and other variants.
One of the risks of allowing the virus plenty of infections is that it may result in more variants of various differing characteristics. Ever ‘generation’ of virus has the potential to allow for a mutation variant. Additional ‘generations’ allow for potential evolution in unpredictable directions/manners - and could lead to even more infectious or immunity-resistant strains. A great reason we should be limiting the number of infections out there through social distancing, mask wearing, etc…
The particulars might be opaque but it isn’t a surprise. Multiple iterations were the projection. Since way back. Fully consistent with previous epidemics.
The more infections and transmissions permitted, the greater the risk of variants arising.