A more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in Brazil has reached Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers say.

The variant, dubbed P.1 by scientists, is more resistant to antibodies including those from COVID-19 vaccines, meaning vaccines are less effective against it. Still, researchers say the appearance of the Brazil variant in Dallas underscores the importance of vaccinations as another line of defense against the coronavirus.

Researchers also say the variant’s appearance here is another reason to continue social distancing and wearing masks, even after vaccination.

“These findings reinforce the importance of vaccination — which helps slow the transmission of all types of virus and protects against more severe disease — and continuing to follow safeguards such as masking and distancing,” Dr. Jeffrey SoRelle, an assistant instructor of pathology at UT Southwestern, said in a written statement. “Even though the variant is known to evade the immune system, meaning less vaccine efficacy, vaccine protection is far better than having none.”

UT Southwestern has regularly conducted sequencing tests to identify new variants on samples from Dallas County for the last several months. Those tests show that the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) is found in about 55% of samples. The California (B.1.429), New York (B.1.526) and Brazil variants were found in about 7% of those sampled.

Earlier this year, researchers at the hospital said the U.K. variant could trigger a new surge in cases. Although it is more contagious than other strains that spread in North Texas in 2020, the U.K. variant is not more deadly and is susceptible to the vaccines that are available.

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in London. Company executives say they are confident the vaccine works against the UK variant of the virus, but further studies are needed to be completely sure.